Book Review ~ Psalms Redux: Poems and Prayers

imageThe evening I came home to find this on my doorstep, I was close to complete collapse from the emotional exhaustion of being back at work. The extra chaos and senselessness I have returned to. I felt like I could take no more. I was tired, angry, and became upset over the tiniest thing. As I flicked through, having been using a pre-version of the collection for some time, my attention was caught by the ‘Psalm for the Oversubscribed’. I immediately identified with “the river of rage / flowing so close to the surface”, and then ultimately, if only for a short time, was calmed by the “gentle voice” urging stillness.

This Psalm is unusual among the collection, in that it is not given a spiritual anchor to any specific Psalm in the Bible. Yet, it resonates, along with the other Psalms, with our lives as we know them. The metaphors of God as “the weaver and the cloth / the dancer and the dance” spring alive from the page. In the Psalms Redux, Carla Grosch-Miller reinvokes the hurt, and anger, as well as the joy and gratitude, of some of the psalmists, through her own voice, unveiling a certain, tender vulnerability. Thus, the poetry reflects the personal journey that she undertook to write them.

The effect is both stunning – and inviting. I have found that reading a Psalm redux in concert with the original text, leads me into a liminal space where I can reflect prayerfully on what God is saying to me in those verses. At times when emotion has threatened to overwhelm or consume me, a Psalm redux has offered expression of that hurt. Here is potential for healing. From here, I am led on my own faith journey.

This is not to say that one could replace the Psalms with this text, nor would Grosch-Miller want that. Indeed, I have often gone to the Psalms Redux to find the one I am struggling with is not there, and my wrestling must continue. Nor is it to say that the underlying ideas expressed in this poetry are entirely new. Other writers have reflected similarly on parts of the Bible’s story. But the ideas are offered here in a fresh and unique way. For that reason, I hope that this isn’t the last time that Grosch-Miller’s reflections are shared in print.

Psalms Redux (2014) is written by Carla Grosch-Miller and published by Canterbury Press.

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