Psalm 42/43: So Thirsty!

Monday of the Third Week of Lent

March 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 42 and 43 which, in some ancient Hebrew texts, were combined into one psalm.

Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
   When shall I go and behold the face of God?

Psalm 42:3

We human beings experience thirst on many levels. We thirst for water, for knowledge, for happiness, for peace. 

Our accompanying readings today tell the stories of two Old Testament figures who thirsted for God’s life and healing – Naaman the leper and the widow of Zarephath.

Jesus says that among many lepers and widows, they were unique in having their thirsts quenched – their longings answered with miracles.

Why was that?

Both Naaman and the widow were able
to give up the outcome they expected
in order to receive the miracle God offered.

Naaman had expected an extraordinary prophetic light-show. But, with encouragement, he yielded to the common waters Elisha prescribed.

The widow had expected to starve and die. But she yielded to the generous sharing of her last water and bread.

Like these two seekers, we need our many thirsts slaked too. Throughout our lives, we pray for our own big and small miracles. But the miracle will almost always come to us in a manner we had not expected just as it did to Naaman and the widow.

Our supplications rarely find expected answers. Rather, our prayer transforms us to engage the grace already present in our ordinary circumstances:

  • the healing, like Naaman’s, in our ordinary rivers
  • the enduring sustenance, like the widow’s, in our simple stores

Send forth your light and your fidelity;
    they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
    to your dwelling-place.

Psalm 43:3

Poetry: New Year Re-Solutions, 2021 by Richard Blanco, author of the 2019 book How to Love a Country, and the 2013 inaugural poet of the United States for the inauguration of President Barack Obama; he was the first Latino to hold the role.

Stop closing the shades, let the sun glow again 
like a god who loves and wakes me to me 
in the wake of its divine light traveling millions of miles
to ripple mauve and amber into my window, raise 
my shut eyes open, done dreaming. Breathe. 
Let my coffee’s steamy soul rise and bless me 
every day with its aroma before I take my first sip. 
Name each day a miracle, linger again in its mystery
of possibilities. Breathe. Set the mime-hands of my watch
back two minutes every day, until time and me disavow 
each other’s obligations. Open the newspaper, but read
between the black and white lines for its lies. Breathe. 
Stop walking my dog, let him dog-walk me unleashed
through his park. Let his nose compass me toward 
the smells of all I’ve stopped taking in: the sweet,
ancient dank of mud and mosses, the incense
of pine tree bark. Let his ears point me to listen again
to all I’ve become deaf to: the wind harping through
the strings of leaved branches, the opera of wrens
gossiping about the weather’s secrets. Breathe. Don’t deal
with the mail every day, let bills and notices pile up
like a house of cards until it collapses on the kitchen counter. 
Take up cooking again, but add music to my recipes: 
sway my hips as I beat eggs to conga beats, tap my feet
as I chop shallots to the staccato of piano keys, sing along
as I strum the sauces slow and tender to the croon
of a folk guitar. Bake all the desserts I deserve, dip 
my finger into the frosting first, bite into the crust, lick
the plate clean, feast on my life. Breathe. Indulge 
myself more often alone in the living room where
I’d forgotten to live. Take down my old photo albums
from the shelves, stare at all the dusty years of myself
in those eyes I had forgotten were mine and still love
me. Breathe. Sit on the porch every night, but stop
asking the moon: Who am I? Accept the moon as simply 
the moon, and me as simply me, just as bright
and wise, just as scared and delicate as I was
last year, and will be this year, and the next and 
the next, perfectly imperfect in the nothing of 
my everything, breathing as if each breath
is forever my first and my last.

Music Come to the Water – John Foley

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