A Clean Heart

Agastache foeniculum by Magnus Manse, CC by ShareAlike 3.0
Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop) by Magnus Manse, CC by ShareAlike 3.0

What does a clean heart and a spirit of justice require of me?

Psalm 51

1 Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love! Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion! Wash me completely clean of my guilt; purify me from my sin! Because I know my wrongdoings, my sin is always right in front of me. I’ve sinned against you—you alone. I’ve committed evil in your sight. That’s why you are justified when you render your verdict, completely correct when you issue your judgment. Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin, from the moment my mother conceived me. And yes, you want truth in the most hidden places; you teach me wisdom in the most secret space. Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and celebration again; let the bones you crushed rejoice once more. Hide your face from my sins; wipe away all my guilty deeds! 10 Create a clean heart for me, God, a new, faithful spirit deep inside me! 11 Please don’t throw me out of your presence; please don’t take your holy spirit away from me. 12 Return the joy of your salvation to me and sustain me with a willing spirit. (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Psalm 51 in Other Words

What I want from God is mercy and compassion. I want history to forget my shortcomings, wrongdoings, and moral tarnish. Actually, I would like to develop amnesia about the dark side of my being. I can’t forget. That part of me is so deeply a part of me, It haunts me day and night. When I am aware of an insistence in the name of God (perhaps), I know that I am called to something better. I want to be honest with myself and with the world around me. I want the secrets of my heart (both the light and the dark) to be harnessed for the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice.

The word I hear in church is that my sins are forgiven — the slate is wiped clean. When I say that I want mercy and compassion from Godis. I am declaring that I need to show mercy and compassion to myself (and to the others around me). That mercy will open the door for a new and right spirit to take root in me. To find a third way — beyond the struggle of denying the dark so as to bask in the light — to find a way that affirms the fullness of who I am (darkness and light) and mobilizes renewed energy for mercy and compassion restores me to the joy of salvation (the well-being of all in society). 

May I be a willing spirit sustained in mercy and active for the justice of all.

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