June 6, 2010

Beulah Land!

Last Sunday, we sang an old Southern hymn, "Dwelling in Beulah Land." You won't find it in the hymnals in the kind of churches I attend in Connecticut! The chorus has stayed with me all week:

I'm living on the mountain underneath a cloudless sky,
I'm drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry,
O yes! I'm feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply
For I am dwelling in Beulah Land.

There is one place in the Bible, Isaiah 62.4, that speaks of Beulah Land. It is a powerful statement of the promise of God's love fulfilled in the land itself, in the place of grounding, where the people find their life and livelihood. The prophet reminds them: "You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Beulah (Hebrew for Married); for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married."

It is odd to think of the land being married, but the old hymn explains the meaning. It is to come to a place of abundance and joy, a place where all that is needed for life is present in overflowing measure. Maybe Beulah Land is all around us but our culture has become so soaked with fear and greed that all we see is scarcity. It is a fact that there is enough food in the world for everyone to be fed, and yet countless numbers die of starvation every day.

I was in my own Beulah Land when I sang the hymn. In the few days I was there, different people showed up with various little gifts: a cabbage freshly cut from the garden, a dozen eggs right from the chickens, potatoes and onions newly dug, squash and blueberries just picked. It was a bountiful supply of manna and we indeed had a feast, several actually!

And the first verse of the hymn starts with these words: "Far away the noise of strife upon my ear is falling." I did, in those few days, feel that the noise of the world's strife was far away; not absent, but not overwhelming either. To live in the place of abundance is to be able to be present in a world that is far from perfect and still to know that God's intention for all the earth -- people, animals, plants, and everything -- is only good, always shalom. It is to remember that the whole universe is, indeed, as Brian Swimme has said, "bottomless vaults of generosity."

1 comment:

cdallen42 said...

Thank you for returning to your blog. It is a joy!