“Like cattle that go down into the valley,
The spirit of the Lord gave them rest.”
~Isaiah 63:14 (NRSV).
Rest is a part of the design for life, yet I recognise within myself—that once upon a time—the desire to push for more was very strong. I see it in others; wanting more but wanting rest too.
The image of cattle watering by a valley’s stream, and the sense that goes with that picture, brings a peaceful schema to the flustered mind—even if fleetingly. The calming Presence of the Lord is recalled. This of all things is the most resplendent of God’s works of mercy; peace for the minute.
The Value of Oral Tradition
Way before Bibles there was only the history of the people of God that was passed down from generation to generation. The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) was there to remind all Israel of the importance of carrying the message of God’s universal power and faithfulness—so that succeeding generations would never forget.
Those of us struggling for peace now may have had times where peace was more affordable or available—it’s pined for now. There’s an ‘oral tradition’ deep in our spirits that reminds us of the yearning we have for the experience of that calming stream. But perhaps it’s nowhere in spiritual sight just now.
Oral tradition is best when it presents as something recognisable, yet perhaps distant. This way we recall the goodness of God to get us through and we remain hopeful for it. There will be a fresh revelation of God’s mercy, but the old instance reminds us that it did occur and how it happened. As the past is relived it fuels hope for the future.
Hope Drives the Person to the Pleasant Season to Come
Whilst it doesn’t yet show itself, and we can’t for the lives of us see how it will transpire, peace-rippled change is afoot and it will cause gladness in our spirits and calm in our minds.
Indeed, even whilst in torment, the hope pervading, there is a great sense of belief in the Lord’s mercy. The great thing is we only need to have seen it work once. That time it was so powerful and relevant it swept our ideas of God into a frenzy of faith—never to doubt those portions of God again.
Here, spiritual amnesia is a thing of the past and God’s known each day for what’s done in the past—the past catapulting much meaning into the nether reaches of the present and future.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.