Tuesday, October 06, 2009

From where is my help to come, reflection on Psalm 121

from this morning's Daily Office of morning prayer

Psalm 121 Levavi oculos

1I lift up my eyes to the hills; *
from where is my help to come?
2My help comes from the LORD, *
the maker of heaven and earth.
3He will not let your foot be moved *
and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.
4Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel *
shall neither slumber nor sleep;
5The LORD himself watches over you; *
the LORD is your shade at your right hand,
6So that the sun shall not strike you by day, *
nor the moon by night.
7The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; *
it is he who shall keep you safe.
8The LORD shall watch over your going out and your coming in, *
from this time forth for evermore.

The psalmist sings this song of goodness and mercy of God, from whom our help comes. Of course, we know that there are times when God's presence can seem less than present, when we long for God's embrace and cannot sense it. However, I believe that we must cultivate our attention to the ways that God is breaking in to our everyday world - and more than that, it is only us that perceive that God is breaking in, for he is already there! [of course] The psalmist wonders for a moment from where help will come, but in lifting ones eyes to the hills, the psalmist remembers God, and remembers that God has done good things, that God has been there on the journey and sings this song of praise and glory for the Lord who watches over us, who is the shade between us and the sun, and is the warmth that we feel at night.

In order to build this awareness, we need to build up our practice of turning to God, of remembering God's help and God's presence in our lives day to day. We are not alone in this universe, and this is not a cold planet flipping through the reaches of the solar system, this universe is charged with the Spirit of God, and God's handiwork is all around us. Cultivating awareness of the gifts that God has given to us, and cultivating mindfulness will allow us to embrace the psalmist's prayerful song.

The Lord shall watch over your
going out and your coming in,
from this time forth forevermore.

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