“Cleanse me from secret faults! O God, purify me from hidden iniquities. Give me a good answer at your dread judgment seat. Lord of great mercy and measureless love for all people: Hear my prayer!”
“Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon your people.” (Psalm 3)
I’ll be putting this meme somewhere that I can see easily see it. I need the reminder.
Neuroscience tells us that what’s going on in this quote is a function of something called myelination. Myelin is a chemical that allows signals to travel faster in our neural pathways. We build up myelin by repetition. The more we do something, the stronger the pathways in the brain needed to get it done. That’s why “practice makes perfect.”
Myelination doesn’t just affect learning skills, it also shapes things like character and attitudes. Choosing to be positive will make us a more positive person, because we are strengthening the “positive” pathways in our brains. The same is true for negative thinking.
In the words of the 20th-century Eastern Orthodox monk, Elder Thaddeus:
Our thoughts determine our lives.
“In every moment direct me according to your word, lest lawlessness overpowers me. Shine your face upon your servant and teach me your statutes. Let my mouth be filled with your praise, O Lord, so that I may sing of your glory the whole day long.”
“I entreat your benevolence, only wise and merciful Physician. Heal the wounds of my soul and enlighten the eyes of my mind, that I may understand my place in your eternal design. Inasmuch as my heart and mind have been disfigured, may the balm of your grace repair them.”
“Hear this, all peoples; give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together. My mouth shall speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart shall give understanding.” (Psalm 49)
I’ve been following the work of Jonathan Pageau for a couple of years now. An Orthodox icon carver from Montreal, Canada, Pageau has developed a large body of commentary (particularly on YouTube) on modern culture, narrative, and the Story that keeps getting told over and over again throughout human history.
In this video, Pageau talks about the religious imagery in the protests following the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis. In the video notes, Pageau writes:
From kneeling and chanting to contrition and acts of communion, the protests used catharsis as a means to a form of religious ecstasy, which was made more intense because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The intent is not political commentary but a reflection on how the protests, within the context of the Corona virus outbreak, reveals how “religious” human beings really are. Ritual, fasting, offering are all woven into the fabric of our being.
“In the morning are we filled with your mercy, Lord, and we rejoice in all our days. Let us delight even in the days that you make us lowly and for the years that we have seen evils. Let the light of the Lord our God be upon us, and the works of our hands may you guide aright.”
“O Lord, I pray to you: Have mercy on me. Spare me in my affliction and misery, and do not hide the way of salvation from me.”
Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the church of the faithful. Let every breath praise the Lord! (From the Psalms of David)