The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
It has happened a few times this summer, here, in my shady back yard. A glimpse of sun glistening through the trees,
a brief, very brief, flicker of joy,
Buried under an impenetrable sadness.
Not enough to spark ignition,
just a slight, fleeting flicker.
Glistening green evoking the carefree feelings of my childhood,
back when I used to sing to the sun.
Oh for childlike innocence.
Oh for a refreshed soul.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Last night my church gathered to pray for peace.
It felt good to do something more than privately lament the escalating violence. It felt good to publicly lament; to add my signature to the Peace Petition.
Just as our prayers were about to begin, a voice spoke up:
“I have something to say.”
I turned and saw a tall, youngish man walking up the aisle.
“You can’t drink from the cup of God and from the cup of the devil.”
I expected someone to respond but no one did. Perhaps we were all processing his words.
Doesn’t that go without saying?
The man turned, walked back down the aisle and out the door. An elderly man in the back asked, “What did he say?”
I thought he was someone from the church whom I had never seen before until the pastor suggested that he might be someone from the community who is hurting. So we prayed for him.
And then it occurred to me that he could come back with a gun. Shoot every one of us in that small gathering. It wasn’t a fearful thought, just a practical one. Just a practical concern for our friends at home.
My daughter, the hub and I were all sitting side by side in a pew near the front. If he gunned all three of us down, it might be days before it occurred to anyone that the friends were all alone.
There is an exit that leads to a side door a couple of pews in front of us.
I’ll dive under the pews, I thought, drag myself out the door and make my way to the Escape.
The little beagle has been known to get into things when we are away. As a result, there is nothing but canned goods on the lower shelves. Perhaps I should start leaving a little something that she and Max can chew their way into. Just to hold them over until help arrives.
My thoughts returned to the corporate prayers, Scripture and interspersed singing. The pastor invited anyone who was so moved to come forward and pray what was on our hearts.
My heart saw an image of the people in France, terrified and running for their lives, being mowed down by a truck.
My heart remembered what it felt like in the aftermath of 9/11.
I imagined the survivors and the families of the slain and all of France reeling as we did, wondering if life will ever feel good again.
I remembered the weight of that thick, evil veil.
So I went forward and prayed for them.
And I think I know, now, why the flicker of joy doesn’t ignite.
I’ve been holding my breath since 9/11. I’ve been waiting for the violence to end; for the veil to be lifted. I’ve been waiting to feel good again.
But I may never feel good again.
That sparkling sun flickering gently, hopefully through the trees in my secluded, peaceful backyard seems like a mean tease.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
But perhaps that’s the way it has always been. A feast set in the midst of the famine.
A table in the presence of my enemies.
I read an article about slain police officer Montrell Jackson. In the article his sister, Joycelyn Jackson, was quoted as saying, “It’s coming to the point where no lives matter, whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or whatever.”
She’s right. No lives matter to the enemy of our souls.
Black, white, Jewish, Muslim, Christian. We will all have a turn.
It’s time for me to stop waiting for things to get better. It’s time to finally exhale and enjoy the blessings that are in front of me now.
Because things may never get better. Things may get worse.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Our Heavenly Father has gone to the trouble of preparing a feast of goodness and love even in the midst of this earthly strife.
It suddenly seems wrong not to eat.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5