"Pour out your wrath upon the heathen who have not known you
and upon the the kingdoms that have not called upon your Name."
This usually comes after several lines of lament about how God has become angry at Israel and turned God's face away from them, so that their enemies overpower them. I'm nearly finished translating the Psalter, and I'm shocked at how often lines like these come up. How did I pray the whole Psalter every month when I was a Benedictine Canon (Novice)? How did I let such vengeful words pass my lips?
I suspect the rote character of reciting the psalms daily, combined with the daunting task of chanting the psalm tones correctly, dampened the impact of the words I was praying. In other words, I didn't know what I was praying. Now that I approach these words again, psalm by psalm, line by line, I can no longer gloss over them like I once did. I feel compelled to leave them out altogether. I don't want my daughters to learn that, if things are going badly for them, a) God is mad at them, or b) they have a right to wish God's wrath on someone else. Both of those ideas are completely backwards according to my thealogy.
I'm struggling as I finish this translation to remain true to the text when there's so much that I find thealogically problematic. There are many beautiful, transformative lines in the psalms, like "Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Psalm 51). There are many lines of praise to God, and gratitude for the wonders of creation, the work of God's hands. Those lines are lines that I will teach my daughters to memorize. I may even keep some of the lines that ask God why she has turned her face away, because it's a very human thing to search for reasons for the bad things that happen to us. When things are truly awful, it's natural for one to question God about why it's happened. But I will not teach my daughters to believe that God is wrathful, much less that God takes out her wrath on people when she loses her temper. My Goddess doesn't work like that. My Goddess is a Goddess of mercy, love, and tender care.
I feel a loss as I continue my work on the Psalter--elements of my childhood faith that I accepted without question are now no longer acceptable to me, and I'm having to let them go. I'm even having to rethink the Exodus, because I can't attribute the plagues to God's will. The Judeo-Christian pillars of my faith are failing, and I'm having to reimagine Goddess from the ground up.
Despite my losses, I trust that this book of prayer I'm creating is also revealing Goddess to me, one line at a time.