Out of the depths have I called you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication (Psalm 130:1. The Book of Common Prayer, p.784).
When I meditate on what it means to be in the depths, I think of being in a place of despair. A place where everything feels so hopeless. I feel so helpless. A moment when it feels as if there is no turning back or going forward.
In Chapter 7 verse 10 in The Rule of Saint Benedict, he wrote that “The first step of humility is that a man keeps the fear of God before his eyes (Ps 36:2) and never forgets it. (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English, p.193).
Michael Casey in his book, The Road to Eternal Life: Reflections on the Prologue of Benedict’s Rule wrote, “When Saint Benedict speaks about fear of the Lord as the first step in the ladder of humility, he is making the point that to begin a spiritual life we have to start taking its demands seriously” (p.44).
Fear of the Lord is not living in fear as in being afraid of God. It is what Sr. Joan Chittister in her book, The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century calls the “contemplative consciousness” of God (see p.85) It is the moment of conversion when we realize that we cannot have a spiritual heart for God, so long as we try to hide from God our hearts. The heart is often where we feel like we are isolated, helpless and hopeless. The heart is where we often harbor grudges and pretend like there is nothing wrong. It is from our hearts, however that we cry out the words of Psalm 130:1. It is in the depth our hearts that we long for God to hear our voice; because that desire in our hearts is there by God’s gracious initiative. We do not have to run and hide. On the contrary, it is in the heart that the contemplative allows God to help us pull off all our masks and lay all of our wounds in God’s merciful hands. Remember what God said to Samuel? “Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b).
Are you calling to God out of the depths of your heart?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB