To close my adoration hour this past Monday, I prayed Psalm 63. My eyes returned to verse 5 after I finished. I read the words over a second and then a third time. “My soul will feast and be satisfied, and I will sing glad songs of praise to you.” So read the Good News Translation which happened to be the version available in the adoration chapel. The NAB (verse 6, by the way) reads, “My soul shall savor the rich banquet of praise, with joyous lips my mouth shall honor you.”
Oh, those words! How truly they resonate. They reminded me of something my favorite Scripture professor, Dr. Gregory Vall, said as we studied Psalm 25. Verse 1 includes, “to you O Lord, I lift up my soul.” We discussed the notion of lifting our souls, our nephesh (Hebrew*), to God. Dr. Vall insightfully noted that “we are always lifting our nephesh to something.” Our souls are always seeking something and so we lift them up to whatever we think maybe, just maybe, will be what is sought. David, as he expresses in his psalm, chooses to lift his to the Lord. The verse that caught my attention so strongly in Psalm 63 seems to me like David’s follow up to that choice.
“My soul will feast and be satisfied.” Our souls – our innermost being that gives us our unique human intellect and free will, our ‘hearts’ that house our desires, our spiritual aspect – these souls of ours are incessantly hungry. Having been made for the purpose of eternal life with God, they are kept between the boundaries of this earthly life and so have an unshakeable restlessness for more. Hungry… and so our souls feed. Or rather, we feed our souls. Sometimes it is with the choice meats of prayer and authentic love. Other times, all too often, it is on the scraps of selfish pursuits or flawed pleasures. In some instances, we are quite aware that we are feeding our souls. We are convicted by the restlessness in us and so determinedly pursue contentment – be it in wise or unwise places. Then there are the instances of unawareness. We latch on to sources of pleasure, gnawing through them for the satisfaction they can’t give, and don’t even realize the malnourishment of our souls. This life offers an unending buffet for our consumption. Some soul foods are worth tasting and enjoying and will lend strength for the days ahead. Many are superb when taken in proper portions and at the right times. Others shouldn’t even touch your plate for they will only bring bitter, regrettable damage.
At all times though, our souls are feeding. They are never satiated. They cannot be. For it is only in the banquet halls of heaven that the “soul will feast and be satisfied.” One day… one day… the soul will long for no more for it will have all. In the meantime, feed it well, my friends.
(*Have to give credit to my friend Fr. Mike Chenier for correcting me when I first posted this and said nephesh is Latin. Can’t believe I made that mistake! I hope I didn’t shame Dr. Vall too badly.)