day 39 – put a psalm in my heart

We go birding today and as we do so, we perceive a connection between matters many of us have largely forgotten or … have even come to deny.

Those who penned the psalms had a sense of connection with nature far unlike most of us moderns. When they sought to express to others how things were with them, it was most natural for them to point to likenesses of themselves they perceived in the world around them. They felt as if they could relate to creatures and creation, and communicated so.

Not so much us, as we have built a huge wall between the natural world and the matters of spirit (be it our own or the Holy Spirit). Whereas the psalmists leaned much more toward an inclusive understanding of nature and our nature, we tend to default in our thinking toward an exclusive perspective that establishes deliberate, distinct, and deep boundaries between humankind and the rest of creation. We think: there’s “our world” and then “everything else out there.” The psalmists held a different view: “This is my Father’s world and it is a part of me as surely as I am a part of it.”

Such differences stand out to us in the psalms we read today (Psalm 102-103).

This morning – Psalm 102. “… my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.” (vs. 3-7)

Here, two lonely birds speak to, and speak of, the loneliness of a soul ravaged with great troubles, both in bones and heart, body and spirit (vs. 3-11).

TonightPsalm 103. “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” (vs. 1-6)

Here, the process by which an eagle loses its old feathers and grows a host of new ones far better suited for its age and experiences (molting) is expressive to the psalmist of how he is anything but alone for  the Lord himself who brings many marvelous and good things into their life.

Father, Creator God, break into our mind and tear down the walls we daily erect that separate what you care for as one. Deliver us from putting asunder what you have joined together: theology and ecology. As surely as you promise a resurrection body to go with our redeemed soul, and as surely as you vow to redeem all things to yourself, help us to see all you have made as revelation to us and ourselves as revelation of you to the angels who watch and all the cosmos, too. Amen.