Today is absolutely beautiful. Yesterday was hot and muggy, but a treat was in store for us today-blue sky, low humidity, and white, billowy clouds. I did a little sky gazing this afternoon, something I did a lot of when I was a boy. I looked up at the clouds, wondered if I still had it in me to see cloud formations, and almost instantly, there was a very large dog lying on its back, paws high in the air; a backside view of Winnie the Pooh, holding some kind of a club, looking over his left shoulder; and lo and behold, one of Michael Catlett’s bow ties!
Maybe it’s because we’re listening to the psalms in our summer worship, but for a few minutes, I felt like a psalmist. When “breaking news” is heartbreaking and infuriating, the psalmist “looks to the hills, from which cometh our help.” When the psalmist feels like an ant in a vast universe, it’s the right time to look into the star-filled night sky with wonder, and marvel that not only is the Creator mindful of all of us, but we “have been crowned with glory and honor, only a little lower than God.” When the psalmist wonders if it’s possible to fall off the edge of the universe, it’s time to pose rhetorical questions, “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” The questions are rhetorical because the psalmist knows that no matter how far we run, or how dark it seems around us, “the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” The very human experience of being in a body, of feeling hunger and thirst, only points to the longing of our souls for God: “My soul waits in silence…God you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.“
The psalms offer us much needed perspective. It may help us with life on the ground to gaze into the sky, to be reminded of the beauty of God’s creation, and our God-given place in the universal scheme. It may re-energize us to look within, and follow our own inner hungers to a first hand experience of God’s Presence, and a Love that will not let us go.
Anyone can be a psalmist. All that’s required is a little humility, even a momentary sense of awe, a small dose of introspective honesty, the slightest willingness to shake your fist and/or open your hands to the heavens. You have a slight advantage if you’re hungry and thirsty. Whatever is present in the moment, direct it to God, who will make you lie down in green pastures, lead you beside still waters, restore your soul, and lead you in paths of justice.
May God be gracious to us and bless us and cause the face of God to shine upon us.