Artwork by Charlie Criner
Psalm 126 / Isaiah 40:1-11 / Romans 8:22-25
By Cathy Bartholomew
Psalm 126: A Harvest of Joy
A Song of Ascents.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the watercourses in the Negeb!
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy!
He that goes forth weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
One of the advantages of getting older is that we have experienced the ebb and tide of life often enough to know that the lean seasons will not always be lean, and the seasons of plenty will come and go as well. We also no longer see the good times as “God’s Favor”; and the bad times as “God’s Absence”. As Father Chris says each week in our final blessing, “God is not angry with you.” We are blessed because the God of the Universe knows our name – All The Time. That is finally becoming enough.
When I was younger, I maintained the Illusion of ARRIVAL. I remember imagining that ONE day, I would figure out the formula; the strategy that would serve to govern an efficient, secure and pain-free future existence. If I was just smart enough, strong enough, rich enough, fill-in-the-blank enough, I would no longer suffer and wrestle with the angst of everyday nuisances, as well the catastrophic: unemployment, emergency rooms, credit card debt, fire and flood, death and disappointment,
While age and wisdom does mitigate some of these hardships, it does not rid us completely of suffering, depression, pain and the unexpected. Life is messy. Loved ones die unfairly, and the evil prosper – no matter what. But also, sometimes, the sick get well, the perfect car is found, the lottery is won – no matter what. The tide turns. The other shoe drops. Rainy days come. The sun rises again.
The peace that comes with maturity has been found in holding the good and the bad loosely; indeed, in tension. I relish the good days with one eye over my shoulder, knowing they are temporal; which makes the good days even better. I look to the horizon on the dark days; knowing the sun will soon be peaking over the highest hills of my dark desperation.
When I read the Psalms, I recognize this Ebb and Flow of the Tides of our humanity. This rhythm is beautiful with God as the constant in the background of our existence. He is HERE; no matter what – ready to hold us through the dark night of the soul; and rejoice with us on the mornings of hope and renewal.