Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. 4 In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. 8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. 10 From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13 Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. 15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. 20 Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. 21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
You may recognize the beginning of this Psalm as the words Jesus spoke from the cross. I believe his followers understood those words – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” – to be a shorthand way of praying this psalm. The important part of this psalm, to me, is the rhythm of plea, and yet.
For my Lenten Discipline this year, I’ve decided I’ll be reading (and blogging) about Debbie Blue’s book, Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible.
The Israelites in the wilderness in Leviticus decided they were tired of manna and started kvetching for meat. God said, “I’ll give you meat,” and thousands of quail blew in on the breeze. They were really happy, except “while the meat was still in their teeth”, they were struck by a plague and a lot of them died.
“Desire is huge and complicated. We long and we lack and our longing and lacking make us create beautiful paintings and poetry: I draws us to one another. We don’t just grow turnips – we desire more, so we grow heirloom tomatoes and spicy basil. We long for something other than processed food so we make organic gardens.”
So here are the Israelites, tired of wandering, and God gives them manna and quail to eat, and they still aren’t satisfied. They’ve been freed from slavery, but they still aren’t satisfied.
All that 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God was providing for them – bread, meat, and water. Maybe God was trying to get them to let go of the idols they had in Egypt. We are still enslaved to idols.
“I don’t think the story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, learning to know God – is mere an item of biblical history. These are stories that help us understand what our lives are like with God. We still wander, we doubt, we wonder if it has been foolish to follow God, because we often find ourselves in the desert. The quail in the Bible are both a sign of God’s extravagant care and a sign that the Israelites’ desires need transforming. We are not exempt from the desert wanderings – but how else would we be transformed?”
Looking at where I am in my life, I really don’t want to take on anything new, but I do need to deepen my knowledge and commitment to the things I am doing.
Politically – I’m going to persist in the resistance.
People Power – I continue to serve on the Texting Team for People Power. That means most days I send between 200 and 600 texts to people who have signed up with the ACLU People Power. Some of the texts are invitations to training for organizing. Some are invitations to organizational meetings, and some are invitations to write, phone, or email political representatives. They are all sent individually and answered individually (thank goodness, I have canned answers available – but we individualize everything as much as possible.) Remember, the ACLU is political but non-partisan. I am one of the texting leads on this team. There are four of us who try to take some of the burden off of the folks to do the real work of getting everything set up. We also TRY to deal creatively and nicely with other volunteers who may not be very understanding or kind.
Wall of Us – I continue to try to accomplish the four actions requested by Wall of Us every week. For instance, this week we are helping Florida’s young people launch “Vote for Our Lives”, gather support for “Walk for Gun Control”, ask companies to disavow the NRA, and explore our elected representatives stance on gun control.
Religiously – I’m going to really work at being Moderator of Olympia Presbytery.
February was a gentle month for Olympia Presbytery. We didn’t have a Leadership Council meeting.
As Moderator, I serve as one of the Trustees for the Presbytery. One of our downtown churches has recently found out that their building built in 1924 is in real danger in case of an earthquake and it will cost $4.5 million to retrofit the building and make it safe. That church was down to 7 (that’s right – 7) members about 20 years ago, but they decided that they wanted to stay who they were and where they were and they deliberately started serving their community. They have grown to over 150 members and are one of the fastest growing churches in the Presbytery. They have an after-school program for two schools in the neighborhood. They run a medical clinic, a clothes bank, and other neighborhood services. The Presbytery was pleased to agree to co-sign on a $2.4 loan. They have already raised half of the money themselves with a capital campaign, and through grants and gifts from the community.
Interfaith community – I continue to attend the monthly Interfaith Women’s tea and last week I went to the Interfaith conversation that is held monthly with local Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Jews, and Muslims.
New Worshiping Communities – I continue to serve on the Presbytery’s New Worshipping Communities Task Force.
Creatively – I’m going to try to get down to working on my family history/memoir.
Fill in gaps on Ancestry.com – I’ve done a little bit of work on this, but only in fits and starts.
I’m taking a course here at Franke Tobey Jones on writing memoirs.
Keep up with my knitting – I’m turning out a couple of pairs of socks a week. I took a sackful to the clothes closet at the church mentioned above.
Personally – I’m going to keep up walking, and try to add some resistance training.
10,000 steps a day – I’m keeping up with this, but not being obsessive about it.
2-3 sessions of weight training a week – I still haven’t been regular with this. I will try to set up an appointment with the director of the Wellness Center to establish a set day and time for some personal training (still a slacker on weight training.)
Socially – I’m going to tend my current relationships.
Gazebo Group – The Gazebo Group continues to thrive (particularly with the younger (less than 80 years old) members of the community).
Maintain congregational ties – I attend weekly Bible study and try to attend whatever extra worship services there may be. I’m not able to walk with the Thursday group, or go to Book Club, usually because of moderatorial duties. In May I will serve as Worship Leader on Sunday mornings.
I would really appreciate it if you, gentle readers, would remind me of these intentions when you see me fluttering off after the latest cause du jour.