First reaction to Psalm 101 today? A bit of annoyance. Felt a bit like a politician railing on against some supposed evil in the world only to then be found out for doing exactly that. But then the poet for today, Beth Richardson, pushed me to turn around and look at myself. One of those easy to point out the flaws in others but miss the flaws in yourself. I think Jesus said something about that – specks in others’ eyes while a log is in your own? Anyway…She wrote about verse 2 (“I will walk with integrity of heart…”:
I long to walk with integrity of heart.Beth A. Richardson, The Words of Her Mouth . Pilgrim Press. Kindle Edition.
Truthful, honest, reliable, upright,
knowing the difference between good and evil,
following the right path.
And yet, finding the path has gotten so complicated.
I participate in global warming, the destruction of the planet,
in my daily ordinary routines.
I usually remember my reusable bags at the grocery store.
But what about the dozens of plastic bags in my pantry?
I can’t convince my workplace to stop using single-use water bottles.
And now, straws! It’s so hard to choose between the sea creatures
and the beverage I usually spill down the front of my shirt.
Pull me back, Holy One, towards integrity of heart,
that I might find simple ways to make a difference in the world.
And, Holy One, give me a spirit of mercy and forgiveness
For myself and for the others walking this fragile planet.
I read that shortly before I looked out the window this morning and realized that a stunning sunrise was taking place. So I quickly got ready to go out, leashed up Scout (who was very confused) and we headed out. It was one of those mornings that the color of the sunrise was infusing everything around. It was beautiful. But to get to a place where we could see the fullness of it, I had to walk to the west and had my back to the sunrise. But here’s the thing…direction allowed me to see the part of the sunrise that you only see if you turn around. If you’re only looking to the east at the rising sun, you’ll miss the way that the colors and light reflect across the whole of the sky. There’s something far bigger and far more beautiful to take in the whole of what is emerging each morning.
It is really easy to point out what others are doing wrong. It is really easy to say what we think others ought to be doing. It is really easy to look anywhere else but to turn around and look in the mirror and to look deep within ourselves. That’s a big part of the discussion today about race in America. There are structural things that need to change yes, but there are deep things within me (and within you) that also have to change. There are attitudes, biases, assumptions, desires, and so forth that have to be changing in me. I need to turn around, look at myself, and walk in a new way.
When I do that…when we can do that…we just might realize that there’s something bigger, something wider, something far more beautiful than just that one way we’ve always looked…