Sunday, March 24
This week’s theme: Our bounteous provider
It originated in the mid-1500s, and today — nearly 500 years later — millions of Christian worshipers sing its familiar words each Sunday.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; praise God, all creatures here below; praise God above, ye heavenly hosts; praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
Truly, all blessings flow from our gracious Creator. However, it is one thing to give lip service to this truth, quite another to live within its awareness every day.
This week in our Lenten journey, we will walk through verses of Psalm 65.
▲ Visio Divina — Guided Meditation
How often do we worry about not having enough?
God, though, is a bounteous God.
Give thanks for God’s bounty and gaze at the picture.
What is the first thing you notice? Focus only on that part of the picture.
What are you feeling? Hopeful? Grateful? Joyful?
Now gaze at the entire picture.
Where in your life can you be more mindful of God’s provision?
Close your meditation with a prayer of thanks to God.
Monday, March 25
O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come. — Psalm 65:2
We human beings are enamored with our own cleverness. We have mapped the DNA genome, altered the genetic material of seeds, spawned creatures in petri dishes, and advanced the frontiers of artificial intelligence.
But none of us can re-create the original spark of life. That alone comes from God, and it is why all flesh must come back to our Source for sustenance.
Think of this. Every night while we float on a sea of dreams, our Creator continues to work within us. Our nails and hair keep growing, our hearts beat, our blood cleanses itself, our breathing rises and falls. These are simple but powerful reminders of what Paul said to an assembly of Athenian elders at the Areopagus in Athens: “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
How often do we take these everyday miracles for granted? Psalm 65 begins by reminding us of our essential dependence. It is the foundational truth for every other verse in this song.
Spirit of the living God, help us yield more fully to you as you live through us. Amen.
Tuesday, March 26
From the mountains to the seas
By your strength you established the mountains; you are girded with might. You silence the
roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves . . . — Psalm 65:6–7
From the summit of Mount Everest to the sea floor of the Marianas Trench, God created the sacred mountains and waters — stirring emblems of our Creator’s power. Both peaks and oceans contribute to the abundance of our world. Mountains act as watersheds, shelter abundant wildlife and help shape the planet’s weather patterns. The oceans, the primordial source of earliest life, also influence our climate and provide sustenance to countless people across the planet.
Our experiences of peaks and oceans remind us not only of the earth’s formation, but of God’s plan for our lives that was taking shape since the first dawn. The process of evolution continues in our souls. If we feel discouraged and need to remember this Divine plan, let us say with the writer of Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the hills — from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
God of mountains and oceans, let your strength gird our lives today. Amen.
Wednesday, March 27
Singing in the rain
You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it . . . — Psalm 65:9a
Recently, I lived through one of the worst droughts in Texas history. The ground around our home gradually dried, turned to dust and then began to form large fissures. It looked like an alien landscape, shriveled and desperate for moisture.
When rains finally returned, I remember standing in our yard with my face lifted to the clouds. I felt a simultaneous sense of relief and deep gratitude. I was acutely aware of how dependent we are on God to “visit the earth and water it.”
In a 1972 television special, country singer Roger Miller said something that has made its way into popular culture, misattributed in countless memes: “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”
In a folksy way, this captures the Lenten journey of mindfulness. We develop essential gratitude for God’s continued bounty. We feel it in the sunlight on our cheeks, the wind that tousles our hair, the thunder that booms over our valleys. We do not take these elements for granted, but in them see and feel the bounteous Presence that surrounds us.
Today, O God, we will not take your provisions for granted. Amen.
Thursday, March 28
Staffs of life
. . . you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. — Psalm 65:9b
On a recent road trip, my wife and I traveled through Nebraska and Kansas and viewed vast fields of corn and wheat stretching out in the sunlight on each side of the highways. It was a reminder of why America is called “the breadbasket of the world.”
Grains and other basic foods are the staff of life. It is wheat in some cultures, rice or corn in others. I think of eating rice in the village of Munnar, India, or nshima (cornmeal) in Zambia. I remember walking through the open market in Cusco, Peru, marveling at the array of potatoes in dozens of shapes and colors. I saw the ruins of terraced farming at Machu Picchu, where Incas cultivated over 3,000 distinct varieties of this nourishing tuber.
As we give thanks for these staffs of life, we are also mindful of famines that periodically plague our planet. This is when we must remember our dominion, the trust God has given us to care for all of life. We must learn to share the bounty so freely poured out upon us, especially in our privileged, affluent society.
Thank you, O God, for staffs of life that sustain us. Amen.
Friday, March 29
Girded with joy
The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy . . . — Psalm 65:12
We think of joy as supercharged happiness, an elusive quality we seldom experience. But the Psalms, by linking joy with the sights and sounds of Creation, open a different truth. Joy is a natural response to God’s bounteous goodness, part of what Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit. It can infuse our days with praise.
One of the most gratifying results of mindfulness is the birth of this joy within us. Psalm 65 tells us that this quality “girds” us. “Gird” is an archaic word, meaning to encircle one’s waist with belts necessary for battle. In reality, there is a battle going on in our world. Idolatries of nationalism and materialism vie to control our thinking. We are constantly tempted to put our trust, as Jesus said, “where moths and rust destroy.”
Amid this, we can gird ourselves with joy. We can remember Nehemiah, rebuilder of the Temple, as he bolstered a remnant of Israelites fresh from Babylonian exile: “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Creator God, may your joy flow into us and gird us for this day. Amen.
Saturday, March 30
. . . they shout and sing together for joy. — Psalm 65:13b
What a fitting climax to this hymn called Psalm 65! From the mountaintops to the oceans, from the pastures to the skies, all of life sings together for joy! And, as Henry Van Dyke’s immortal lyrics call us, “Mortals join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began. Love divine is reigning o’er us, binding all within its span.”
It is true in our families, our churches and our communities — we are better together. We are created for cooperation and harmony. Mindfulness teaches us this freeing lesson at ever-deepening levels. It shows us our interdependency not only upon each other, but upon every element of Creation that surrounds us. We are stitched into the fabric of life.
So much of Western thinking has set itself apart from nature, and thus, from God. We would do well to learn from other traditions, including the indigenous cultures of the Americas before they were decimated by colonialism.
Black Elk, a medicine man of the Oglala Lakota, said these words:
“The first peace . . . is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers . . ..“
Today, O God, draw us into harmony with your Presence evident everywhere. Amen.