O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you. My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” – Psalm 63:1, 5, 8
The song that carried me through my first year of seminary as a single mother was “My Soul Desire” by Deniece Williams. I played it several times a day, every day. My daughters and I danced to it at home and in church. The lyrics helped me to understand what in the world (or within me) had urged me to leave everything I knew and had worked hard for, everyone I loved, and move to Chicago to pursue theological education.
It wasn’t until writing this reflection 24 years later that I learned I had one of the verses wrong!
I used to sing, “My soul desire is to be used…and empty this old longing to be filled by you.”
The correct words are, “My soul desire is to be used…an empty vessel longing to be filled by you.”
Perhaps the words I thought I heard the artist sing were the exact words I needed in those moments of discernment and transition. Perhaps those words affirmed that indeed my soul had always longed for God. My heart/soul/mind heard what was necessary to help me make sense of it all and not just run back home.
Lent is about both emptying ourselves and offering ourselves as empty vessels. Lent is an opportunity to allow our heart/soul/mind to hear what is necessary as we journey towards and with a God that fills our longing for love, justice, and shalom.
God, I join the psalmist in declaring that my soul desire is to be used by You. Indeed my soul clings to You even as I mess up words, make mistakes, and try hard not to give up. Amen.
Marilyn Pagán-Banks serves as Pastor of San Lucas UCC, Executive Director of A Just Harvest and Adjunct Professor at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.