Psalm 23: Awake to the Feast

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

December 2, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 23. On this first Wednesday of Advent, our psalm is set between two eloquent readings about the full satisfaction of our soul’s hungers.

Isaiah blesses us with his metaphor for Heaven’s abundance, when our souls will be filled to a divine capacity of grace.

In a world already redeemed, Isaiah’s vision has been fulfilled. We live our lives already seated at the banquet he describes.

But do we realize it? Do we partake every moment in the outpouring of grace given us by our Baptism into Christ?

Unaware, many of us sit at the table starving.

In our Gospel, Jesus sees the deeper hungers of the fatigued crowd. His miracle feeds their bodies but, more importantly, awakens their souls to see him as the fulfillment of God’s promise. Isaiah’s prophecy is accomplished in Jesus:

On that day it will be said:
Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Isaiah 26:9-10

As we read Psalm 23 today, let’s allow its consoling verses to become our prayer of trust and gratitude for God’s “already presence” in our lives. Like the crowd awakened by Jesus’s miracle, let us open our eyes to the infinite grace spread before us, though wrapped sometimes in the mundane circumstances of our lives.


Poetry: Joy Harjo – Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Music: Psalm 23 – Stuart Townend

Psalm 72: Justice Shall Flower

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

December 1, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 72 which sings with Advent expectation and hope. How beautiful to hear its tones once again and to realize that God has carried us through another year.

With Psalm 72, God tells us it is time to begin again – and this time, because of all the past year has taught us, to more fully abandon our hearts to the fidelity God promises. 

Our God and King comes eternally to us
in new waves of revelation.
God’s faithful promise continues
for whatever the coming year unfolds.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Psalm 72: 1-2

Our psalm invites us to see Creation as God sees it, an eternal relationship which endures in peace even beyond the moon’s final setting. That eternal promise brings profound peace. God, who is Infinite Mercy, loves us beyond boundaries, beyond circumstance, beyond time.

Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Psalm 72: 7-8

Jesus is the Promise Fulfilled. In him, Infinite Mercy enfleshes justice for the humble and poor.

He shall rescue the poor one who cries out,
and the afflicted when there is no one to help.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.

Psalm 72: 12-13

Advent patiently teaches us to recognize such salvation and peace. It is not revealed in miracles, but rather in the enduring power of hope, trust and gratitude. Jesus is our salvation and peace. The cyclic retelling of his life, death and resurrection invites us to deepen our own journey once again this Advent.

May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.

Psalm 72: 17

Poetry: Advent Calendar by Rowan Williams, a Welsh Anglican bishop, theologian and poet. He was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held from December 2002 to December 2012.

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

Music: O Come, Divine Messiah
Words: Abbé Simon J. Pellegrin, 1663-1745
English Translation of French Carol “Venez Divin Messie”
Translator: Sister Mary of St. Philip, SND
Melody: 16th Century French Carol

The English translation of “Venez, divin Messie” beginning “O come, divine Messiah” is by Sister Mary of St. Philip, SND, the name in religion of Mary Frances Lescher (1825-1904). She was one of the first English members of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur when they established their training college at Mount Pleasant in Liverpool, England, in about 1850. She and at least one other SND sister wrote both translations and original hymns and songs over the course of their long professional lives.

from John Uhrig’s letter to Douglas D. Anderson, Founder of the website “The Hymns and Carols of Christmas”

Psalm 80: Advent Turns Us Toward God

The First Sunday of Advent
November 29,2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 80, an urgent call to a God from whom the psalmist has turned away.

How do we get to the point that we are turned away from God? And how do we correct that? Well, that’s what Advent is all about, and our psalm today gives us some hints about a remedy.


First: Disconnection 

Sometimes with God, as with any relationship, we simply get disconnected. It’s as if the the phone lines go down and we don’t bother to fix them.

We pray less – well, you know, because we’re busy, right?

We lose the “holy intention” in our lives to always be with God and for God, even in our choices and actions.

Advent helps us remember that such “holy intention” can only be charged by our connection to God. Advent turns us to call that Power into our lives.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.


Second: Confusion 

Other times, we are confused about our soul’s intimate relationship with God. We haven’t forgotten it. Actually, we work very hard to be what we think God wants. We, like a satisfied Pharisee, think our “holiness” is the fruit of our own efforts. But our life in God withers, like a once beautiful plant that languishes, overwatered and scorched. For all our efforts, our souls feel empty.

Advent helps us realize that it is God who enlivens the vine and gives the blossom, not us. Advent turns us to a humble, hopeful waiting for grace as God desires to give it.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.


Third: Withdrawal 

Our psalm recognizes that, at times, we withdraw from God. Perhaps we tire of working at our spiritual life. Or we weary when our works of mercy go unappreciated. Or we fail to find God’s Presence in a prayer that seems unanswered.

Advent helps us see that God is never the one who withdraws from the work of love. We do.

Advent turns us to new life by the simple calling of the Name that never fails to answer.

May your help be with the creature of your right hand,
with the beloved whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

As we begin this Advent journey
that can so deepen us in grace and love,
let us humbly place in God’s hands
anything in our lives that needs “turning”.

Lord, make us turn to you;
let us see your face and we shall be saved.


Poetry: Tagore – THE INFINITY OF YOUR LOVE

Stand before my eyes, 
and let Your glance touch my songs into a flame.

Stand among Your stars, 
and let me find kindled in their lights my own fire of worship.

The earth is waiting at the world’s wayside.
Stand upon the green mantle she has flung upon Your path, 
and let me in her grass and meadow flowers spread my own salutation.

Stand in my lonely evening where my heart watches alone; 
fill her cup of solitude, 
and let me turn my heart toward the infinity of Your love.

Music: Turn Around, Look at Me

Psalm 95: Advent’s Threshold

Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

November 28, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 95. As we pray its laudatory verses, we are invited to stand on the very threshold of Advent.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into the Lord’s presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to our God.


Even though the pre-dawn sky seems essentially unchanged, we can sense the First Light waiting to spring over the horizon. And, oh, how we long for it! How we need it to illuminate the shadows of this pandemic year, to warm the long cold of separation and loss, to fill the stunned silence of our hearts with a new rising song!

For the LORD is a great God,
and a great king above all gods;
God holds the depths of the earth,
and the tops of the mountains
like jewels in a loving hand.
God made and owns the sea
and the dry land, forming them from the Divine Imagination!


We join the whole Church as we pray today’s psalm refrain:

We ask God to prepare Advent’s doors in our hearts and spirits. It is time to be renewed in faith, hope, and love. Over the coming season, God will guide us to that longed-for Light. 

So for this last pre-Advent day:

Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us,
who is our God,
and we are the people Love shepherds, 
the flock Love guides.


Poetry: Advent Credo by Allan Boesak

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.

From Walking on Thorns, by Allan Boesak, Eerdmans, 2004.

Music: Threshold – Adam Hurst

Psalm 98: Joy!

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

November 25, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98. If it sounds familiar as you read it today, no wonder. It looks like Mr.98 might have peeked and copied from Ms. 96 whose verses we read yesterday!🤗

Still, there are some new lovely thoughts to consider this morning as we pray just one month from Christmas. The psalm’s melodic, celebratory tone offers a welcome contrast to the other two rather daunting readings today.

Psalm 98 describes God’s redemption of Israel and the rejoicing that will ensue. It also features many expressions and instruments of music and song. The psalm’s exultant and joyful character inspired Sir Isaac Watts, in 1719, to compose an interpretation we all love: Joy to World. Watts’s poem was set to the music of George Frideric Handel.

Although this glorious song is normally preserved for Christmas, it describes the condition of grace we actually live within every day. Christ already has come into time, already has been born in our hearts.

Our liturgical year is a commemoration and celebration of a salvation already achieved.

So let’s have a bit of early Christmas today. Let’s reach for the full joy of our “Christing” by praying Psalm 98 as Isaac Watts prayed it.

Joy to the World; the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields & floods, rocks, hills & plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.

Today is a good day, as we are about to begin our Advent journey this Sunday, to remind ourselves of exactly where that journey takes us – to the humble center of our hearts where, in every moment, God desires to take flesh for the world.


Poetry: Into the Darkest Hour by Madeleine L’Engle

It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.

Hungry yawned the abyss-
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight-

and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?

Ah! Wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.

Music: John Rutter – The Falcon – first movement based on Psalm 98

Psalm 144: My Mercy!

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saturday, November 21, 2020

From 2018 Post:
We celebrate the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This feast memorializes a story not present in Scripture. We know of it only from apocryphal writings, those considered of unsubstantiated origin. It tells of Mary’s dedication in the Temple at the age of three. Some versions say she remained there until the age of twelve, thus giving her life fully to God even from youth.

On the day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “we celebrate that dedication of herself which Mary made to God from her very childhood under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who filled her with grace … .” (Liturgy of the Hours)


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on Mary’s holy feast, we pray with Psalm 144, a song attributed to David as he thanks God for his war victories.

Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.

How strange that the Church would use this psalm to celebrate gentle Mary as we commemorate her Presentation in the Temple. The traditional story, not included in scripture, is that Mary’s grateful parents brought her, at age three, to be dedicated to God.

The Presentation of Mary by Titian

Psalm 144 reminds us, as we pray with Mary today, that life can be filled with daunting challenges. It can even, at times, seem like a war. Pope Francis has described our times as beset by a “culture of death’:

It is difficult both to recognize and to contradict the overwhelming barrage of selfish, materialistic messaging our culture throws at us. It really is an ongoing battle.

But it is a battle we face not with weapons of violence. We stand up, like Mary, by the power of the God in whom we trust.

My mercy and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who rallies strength around me.


We pray with Mary:

  • to discern the path of grace for our lives 
  • to turn our whole lives over to God, 
  • to become a portal for God to enter our world

We pray for the courage to be God’s new song of hope for our times.

O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to your beloved,
and deliver us from the grasp of evil.


Poem: To the Immaculate Virgin, On a Winter Night – Thomas Merton

Lady, the night is falling and the dark
Steals all the blood from the scarred west.
The stars come out and freeze my heart
With drops of untouchable music, frail as ice
And bitter as the new year's cross.

Where in the world has any voice
Prayed to you, Lady, for the peace that's in your power?
In a day of blood and many beatings
I see the governments rise up, behind the steel horizon,
And take their weapons and begin to kill.

Where in the world has any city trusted you?
Out where the soldiers camp the guns begin to thump
And another winter time comes down
To seal our years in ice.
The last train cries out
And runs in terror from this farmer's valley
Where all the little birds are dead.

The roads are white, the fields are mute
There are no voices in the wood
And trees make gallows up against the sharp-eyed stars.
Oh where will Christ be killed again
In the land of these dead men?

Lady, the night has got us by the heart
And the whole world is tumbling down.
Words turn to ice in my dry throat
Praying for a land without prayer,

Walking to you on water all winter
In a year that wants more war.

Music: Blessed Be the Lord, My Rock – by Abbie Betinis sung by St. Pius X Choir, Atlanta, Georgia

Blessed be the Lord, my rock and my fortress, 

  my stronghold, my deliverer, 

  My shield and he in whom I take refuge. 

We are like breath, 

  our days are like a passing shadow. 

Bow thy heav’ns, O Lord, 

  come down! 

Stretch forth thy hand from on high, 

  rescue me, deliver me. 

I will sing a new song to thee, O God. 

– Psalm 144

Psalm 149: Let’s Dance!

Thursday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

November 19, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 149 which calls the community to sing and dance because God has delivered them.

This happy, celebratory summons is set, contrastingly, between two readings that mention weeping.

Then I saw a mighty angel who proclaimed in a loud voice,
“Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth
was able to open the scroll or to examine it.
I shed many tears because no one was found worthy
to open the scroll or to examine it.

Revelation 5:2-4

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem,
he saw the city and wept over it, saying,
“If this day you only knew what makes for peace–
but now it is hidden from your eyes.

Luke 19; 41-42

The readings leave us with a sense that there is a secret to eternal life – a secret to which only grace can open our eyes and hearts.


John writes that “the Lion of Judah” has the key:

One of the elders said to me, “Do not weep.
The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed,
enabling him to open the scroll with its seven seals.”

Revelation 5:5-6

Jesus, Uncreated Grace, is the Lion of Judah. He has incarnated the sacred key in his Life, Death, and Resurrection. For those who receive him and share his life, the door is opened, the scroll unrolled.

So what is the path to such union with Jesus? 


Our psalm contains a brief line tucked at its center which foreshadows the entire message of the Gospel. 

Let them praise God’s name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves us,
and adorns the lowly with victory.

We will find a dancing, singing joy when we give ourselves to these truths:

  • God loves us irrevocably
  • We can fully receive this great love to the degree that we become like Christ whose image we find among the poor, lowly, and suffering.

Poetry: Dance from Rumi

Come to me, and I shall dance with you
In the temples, on the beaches, through the crowded streets
Be you man or woman, plant or animal, slave or free
I shall show you the brilliant crystal fires, shining within
I shall show you the beauty deep within your soul
I shall show the path beyond Heaven.
Only dance, and your illusions will blow in the wind
Dance, and make joyous the love around you
Dance, and your veils which hide the Light
Shall swirl in a heap at your feet.

Music:  Psalm 149 – Antonín Dvořák

Psalm 150: The Last Word

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

November 18, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 150, the final chapter of the Book of Psalms.

When any of us writes or speaks an important message, we usually take pains to make sure the final comments are direct and powerful. We want our last words to make an significant impact on our audience.

I think the Book of Psalms wants to do the same thing.

So what’s the ultimate ringing word these sacred chapters leave with us?

And it’s not a gentle suggestion. The psalm charges us to SHOUT our praise! To make noise with our acclamations of God! To be absolutely cacophonous in our exaltation. We are to praise God:

  • with the blast of the trumpet,
  • with lyre and harp,
  • with timbrel and dance,
  • with strings and pipe.
  • with sounding cymbals,
  • with clanging cymbals

One might come away thinking we must be noisy in showing our love for God. But there are so many ways we “shout”, even in our silence. 

I think this morning of my Sisters at McAuley Convent, in the quiet accumulation of their elder years. There is very little noise in that beloved community. Still, everything about them shouts praise, gratitude, and faith – all without their even having to say a word.

True praise is an energy, not a sound. It is the direction of our whole being toward the God Who gives us life. It is the gathering of everything about our existence and lifting it all toward God in confidence of its transformation. 

It is the quiet sound of our every breath streaming “Alleluias” over all Creation. It is the final word of our being after everything else is said.

Let everything that has breath
praise the LORD! Alleluia


Poetry: Praising Manners by Rumi

We should ask God
To help us toward manners. Inner gifts
Do not find their way
To creatures without just respect.
If a man or woman flails about, they not only
Destroy their own house,
They incinerate the whole world.
Your depression is connected to your insolence
And your refusal to praise. If a man or woman is
On the path, and refuses to praise — that man or woman
Steals from others every day — in fact is a shoplifter!
The sun became full of light when it got hold of itself.
Angels began shining when they achieved discipline.
The sun goes out whenever the cloud of not-praising comes near.
The moment that foolish angel felt insolent, he heard the door close.

Music: J.S. Bach: Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV. 225

“Singet!”
Bach’s motet springs to life with the insistent repetition of this word, bouncing between two choirs. It’s a joyful and dazzlingly virtuosic celebration of the human voice, culminating in a mighty four-voice fugue.
This motet was performed for Mozart when he visited Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church in 1789. (Bach was music director at the church from 1723 until his death in 1750). Johann Friedrich Doles, a student of Bach who directed the performance wrote,
As soon as the choir had sung a few bars, Mozart started; after a few more he exclaimed: ‘What is that?’ And now his whole soul seemed to be centered in his ears. When the song was ended, he cried out with delight: ‘Now, here is something one can learn from!’( taken from
https://thelistenersclub.com/2019/10/11/joyful-sounds-of-praise-five-musical-settings-of-psalm-150/ )

Psalm 15: Camping with the Beloved

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

November 17, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 15 which often is called an ‘entrance liturgy’, where a worshipper asks the conditions of entering the worship place and a priest answers.

The psalm’s first line, not included in today’s verses, asks that question of the Lord:

LORD, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy mountain?

Psalm 15:1

Reading this line immediately reminded me of Jesus’s first encounter with his chosen twelve. Upon meeting Jesus, and obviously struck with his unique charisma, the disciples ask, “Lord, where do you live?”. They want to be with him, to learn about him. We do too.


It’s a gift to be invited to someone’s home – to see where and how they live, to share their dailyness. It is a first portal to the intimacy of friendship, a gift beyond price when it proves mutual and true.

In today’s Gospel, in a sort of reverse proposal, Jesus invites himself to dinner at Zaccheus’s home. Throughout all the Gospels, we often see Jesus inviting and accepting invitations which prove to be conversions and calls for his followers.

by Plautilla Nelli, an Italian nun who is said to have taught herself to paint in the 16th century. This is a section of her “Last Supper,” painted around 1568, and now newly installed in the old refectory of the Santa Maria Novella Museum. Of course, it shows Jesus with the “beloved” disciple.

In the reading from Revelation, the invitation takes an apocalyptic and corrective tone, but its heart is the same. In essence, God invites us to an intimacy of which we are capable only under certain conditions, i.e. “if you hear my voice“:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If you hear my voice and open the door,
then I will enter and dine with you,
and you with me.
I will give the victor the right 
to sit with me on my throne,
as I myself first won the victory
and sit with my Father on his throne.


Today’s segment from Psalm 15 tells us what some of those conditions look like. It says to be someone who:

  • walks blamelessly and does justice 
  • thinks the truth in your heart
  • slanders not with your tongue.
  • harms not your fellow human beings,
  • takes up no reproach against your neighbor
  • despises not the reprobate
  • honors those who fear the LORD
  • lends not your money at usury
  • accepts no bribe against the innocent

Our challenge from the psalm is to meditate on that list to see what such behavior looks like in modern terms. Beneath the psalmist’s ancient language, we might discover our attitudes and examine our conscience toward issues like:

  • criminal justice
  • capital punishment
  • war
  • poverty
  • immigration policy
  • refugee resettlement
  • propagandist media
  • economic equity
  • felon rehabilitation
  • respect for other religions
  • political oppression
  •  – just to suggest a few.

Psalm 15 tells us, and our other readings affirm, that the one who gets these things right not only gets invited, but gets to remain in God’s house, God’s “tent”.

The one who does these things
shall never be disturbed.

I know that’s Who I want to go eternally camping with! How about you?


Poem: Rainer Maria Rilke, Poems from the Book of Hours

You, neighbor God, if sometimes in the night
I rouse you with loud knocking, I do so
only because I seldom hear you breathe
and know: you are alone.
And should you need a drink, no one is there
to reach it to you, groping in the dark.
Always I hearken. Give but a small sign.
I am quite near.

Between us there is but a narrow wall,
and by sheer chance; for it would take
merely a call from your lips or from mine
to break it down,
and that without a sound.

The wall is builded of your images.

They stand before you hiding you like names.
And when the light within me blazes high
that in my inmost soul I know you by,
the radiance is squandered on their frames.

And then my senses, which too soon grow lame,
exiled from you, must go their homeless ways.

Music: Dwelling Place – John Foley, SJ

Psalm 1: Our Great Trees

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

November 16, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 1 which tells us that a vigorous spiritual life roots us firmly in God.

One who delights in the law of the LORD,
and meditates on God’s law day and night
is like a tree planted near running water.

That rootedness steadies us even in life’s fierce winds, unlike the fate of the spiritually lifeless.

… they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the faithless vanishes.

We all can think of Saints,
living and dead, in our lives
who are like these deeply rooted trees.
Gratefully recognizing them helps us
to grow and deepen our own faith.

I think of my parents who were ordinary people, not scripture scholars or recognized prophets. They simply prayed every day, and tried to do good for and with the people in their lives. Their energy was focused on God and others, not themselves. They were honest, humble, grateful people. They never realized how holy they really were.

They were like those trees planted near running streams, feeding on the waters of generosity not greed. They were strong in life’s winds, which were many and sometimes ferocious. Theirs was a quiet and unassuming faith, but immovable as rock.

My brother and I were blessed to grow up in the shade of those trees, a blessing which made us want to be like them. 


  • Today:
  • Let’s pray for continuing grace to deepen our roots in God.
  • Let’s pray for a faith that nurtures and encourages those God has placed under our branches.
  • Let’s stretch the reach of our tree’s caring shade to all our sisters and brothers, especially those scorched by pain and poverty.
  • Let’s drink deeply of the life-giving waters God offers us.

Poetry: I learned that her name was Proverb by Denise Levertov

And the secret names
of all we meet who lead us deeper
into our labyrinth
of valleys and mountains, twisting valleys
and steeper mountains—
their hidden names are always,
like Proverb, promises.
Rune, Omen, Fable, Parable,
those we meet for only
one crucial moment, gaze to gaze,
or for years know and don’t recognize
but of whom later a word
sings back to us
as if from high among leaves,
still near but beyond sight
drawing us from tree to tree
towards the time and the unknown place
where we shall know
what it is to arrive.

Music: Tree Song by Evie Karlsson
If you have young ones in your life, you may want to listen to this song together. A very simply expressed, yet profound, message.