All my bones will say, “LORD, who is like You, who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him, And the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?” Psalm 35:10 (NASB)
“All my bones will say.” That phrase stuck out to me. How can my bones praise God, cry out to God? I’ve read of my soul crying out to God, but my bones? The Hebrew word is etsem (עָ֫צֶם) and it also means substance or essence. My very essence cries out to God. Beyond where my thinking or feeling resides, my essence praises God, cries out to God, seeks after God, as the “naked intent” written about by an unknown monk.
Therefore what time that thou purposest thee to this work, and feelest by grace that thou art called of God, lift then up thine heart unto God with a meek stirring of love; and mean God that made thee, and bought thee, and that graciously hath called thee to thy degree, and receive none other thought of God. And yet not all these, but if thou list; for it sufficeth enough, a naked intent direct unto God without any other cause than Himself.i
My essence yearns with a naked intent toward His essence. Julian of Norwich also wrote of this.
God will be known; he is pleased when we find our rest in him. All that falls short of him will never satisfy us … And I saw quite clearly how much God is pleased when a person comes to him in all simplicity, as it were quite naked, unafraid and trusting.ii
Naked, but unafraid and trusting, like the newly created in the Garden. Before there was anything in between, before there was the veil caused by sin that separates. That is what I yearn for. Wordsworth wrote of a deep remembrance of that time before the separation from our true home.
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home
–William Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
Like a newborn baby rooting around by instinct to be reunited with my mother, I am forever seeking the secure covering of the swaddling blanket, to be held tightly by the everlasting arms to the life-giving, comforting breast of God.
“Imagine a child finding his mother again after he is born: tasting her not in the amniotic salt of womb water but in the honey of her milk, and hearing her not in her nearby heartbeat, but in the clear sounds of her laughter and speaking and singing. Or imagine him trying to find her in the night, rooting through blanket folds guided by the combined scents of her breath, her hands, her clothing, and the lingering touch of lavender. Imagine him learning to call her to himself with his own new voice.” –Suzanne Guthrie, Praying the Hours
We don’t need many words to do this. Babies don’t have many words. Bones don’t have many words.
“A monk I know once told me about a woman who complained that she had ‘run out of prayers to say.’ He responded, ‘Ah good! Prayer is what happens when you run out of words.’” –Suzanne Guthrie, Praying the Hours
Let me run out of words, go beyond words. Let me recognize the longing of my heart, of my very bones for You. Let me yearn for You Lord with my essence. Let me thirst and crave your Presence as much as You crave mine.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3 (NIV)
As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. Psalm 42:1-2 (NLT)
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being (all that is within me, my center), praise his holy name. Psalm 103:1 (NIV)
And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Mark 15:37-38 (NASB)
(Photograph copyright 2018 Derek Bair)