Reading (the Psalms): Mother Maria

From the Preface to The Psalms:  An Exploratory Translation:

I had studied the Psalms, form, rhythm, content, historical background, as they were sung from age to age, in liturgical harmony, of joy and of grief, by Old Israel; and the distant, unhalting psalmody in the Orthodox Church had often carried me to the shores of eternity, where my prayer could come to rest; and for many years I had myself recited the Psalms in the monastic Offices.  But, one day, I was roused as if out of a slumber, and with sudden, violent clarity I knew that I did not know the Psalms; that, what I knew, was but a surface, or what I myself projected into the Psalms; it was not the life of the Psalms.  And I was ashamed.

Could it not be that each Psalm had a face, a personal face, a particular, unique life, which had remained hidden from me within the eternity flow of liturgical prayer?  I must seek it; but how could I find it?

Could I go back, and yet further back, word by word, listening, delicately, with held breath?  Would then the Psalm let me enter, and allow me, from the inside, to experience it, as if for the first time?

A striking, striking passage.  It captures a feeling I believe we have all had when reading books that matter to us.  We become ashamed of ourselves as readers, know that we have not read with the needed discipline, know that we know only a surface, not the hidden life of what we read.  We need a new pitch of attention to find that life:

Could I go back, and yet further back, word by word, listening, delicately, with held breath?

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