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Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

TO CONSIDER: A recent book on America’s drug overdose crisis captures a story wrapped in the worth of human beings. Harm reduction practices approach the problem believing drug users are equal to others. Meeting needs while expressing care is a key to reaching this marginalized population. When interviewed, an outreach worker impressed the value of withholding judgment. To build relationships we come toward people as someone interested in how their day is going.[1]

Such dispositions make room for healing; mutual relating rather than a transactional exchange. Such meaningful interactions make room for trust and knowing each other. Indian priest Bede Griffins described the space between him and God as a “Void saturated with love”.[2] In places of love we breathe, relax, and rest with wonder. Such relationships allow people to ease into life with openness to possibilities. When we are able to be our truest selves we are safe and secure. It is here we become aware of our potential for growth and change.

O LORD, you have searched me and known me. 1 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. 2 You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. 3 Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely. 4 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 5 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. 6 For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

13 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. 14 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 15 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. 16 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 17 I try to count them -- they are more than the sand; I come to the end -- I am still with you. 18

Respect, admiration, and honor live within the relationship captured by the psalmist. There is room for vulnerability, thoughtfulness, and longevity. What a hopeful picture that connects with human longings.. The psalm depicts the sense of awe we may find within the creative presence of God. There is no distance; only the closeness of an inseparable bond. This passage pairs well with the caption, “Tell me you’re loved without telling me you’re loved.

A daily walk with a dog in Chapel Hill, NC presents opportunities to bump into college kids. This brindle pit mix draws them toward her with ease. Students approach with caution saying, “Aaaah. Can I pet your dog?” With a hint of homesickness they greet the needy mutt. For a moment the atmosphere changes and then off they go with a boost of positive feelings. Attempting to live like an everyday contemplative brings the grounded gift of unending discovery. On the journey we engage spiritual practices. We nurture “a way of being present to what’s really inside our experience.”[3]

TO PRACTICE: Go for a walk. If you have a dog, bring them along. Find a place where you can sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. With the help of your phone read the passage and then put it aside. Breath. Look around you. Listen. If you feel comfortable, close your eyes for a few moments. Be present to God and to yourself. What do you notice? What do you sense within you? Feeling anything? Before you continue walking, respond with a few words to sum up the experience.

“Oh, I want to thank you for so many gifts you gave

The love, the tenderness, I want to thank you

I want to thank you for your generosity, the love

And the honesty that you gave me

I want to thank you show my gratitude

My love, and my respect for you, I want to thank you

Oh, I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you

I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you”

—Natalie Merchant[4]


[1] Macy, Beth. Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Drug Overdose Crisis. (Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. 2022) ,7.

[2] Griffiths, Bede. “The Golden String: Bulletin of the Bede Griffiths Trust.” Vol. 1 No. 2 Winter 1994.

[3] Rolheiser, Ronald. Prayer: Our Deepest Longing. (Franciscan Media, Cincinnato, OH. 2013). 44.

[4] Merchant, Natalie. Kind & Generous. Ophelia Album.. Elektra Records. New York, NY. 1998.



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