Lent & Advent


Carolyn Matthews

December 6, 2022

Longings of the Heart

Mark Liebenow

(Mark Liebenow, friend of LABC, is an essayist, poet, and blogger. His essays, poems, and literary reviews have been published in over 40 journals. The author of four books, his poetry has also been set to music. He writes a weekly blog on grief (widowersgrief.blogspot.com))


Psalm 42:1-5 (NRSVUE)

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”


These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise him,
my help.


Like a deer in the desert desperately searching for water in dried up streams, I remember and search for God. This is not the God locked up in doctrines or preserved in books, but the God who is alive in this moment and in the hearts of people.


Like the mule deer in Yosemite who come down to the Merced River in the morning and again in the evening to drink and be refreshed, so I come to the presence of God throughout the day in order to keep going. Without God’s river of mercy, I would not survive.


When I’ve been away for too long, when I’ve been on the run all day, going from meeting to meeting with only coffee to drink, how glorious it is to sit down in the quiet of the sunset with a cup of cool water and let God’s presence settle into my heart.


After a long winter of stillness, the snows of the Sierra Nevada begin to melt and fill the highland streams and waterfalls that leap into Yosemite Valley. Their sounds resound all around the valley, booming their message that “Life is here! Prepare for growth! Celebrate!”


The rivers overflow their banks and restore the meadows with water. Animals and birds return to their homes. Plants rise and bloom in every canyon nook. People rise to walk on the trails through nature’s temple of the Holy One. The old is renewed and the new is brought to life.


The force of the water coming over the waterfalls makes the earth vibrate, waking it up as well. Height calling to depth. Deep calling to deep. Love calling to lost and reluctant hearts. And though I am surrounded by wonders that I scarcely comprehend, at night I dream of the hidden rivers of God.