Some weeks ago, a colleague suggested that I read Psalm 139 every day for a while. “How long,” I asked (not meaning to imitate the psalmist). “Read it until you believe that God cares about the details of your life. Read it until you realize again that you are God’s beloved child, that you are his creation.”
I followed this instruction for a time, before other concerns crowded in. This week, though, I have been given a number of reminders. Psalm 139 was part of the Sunday lectionary. It also came up in daily reading. At here, where I am on retreat, it was read to our group as the introduction to a workshop. In my naive faith, I see this as God’s not so subtle way of reminding me to pay attention, to lean into this truth, even and especially at times when it seems hard to believe.
Yesterday I had a strange sense of falling apart and being held and healed all at the same. This was neither a part of the conference agenda nor was it a conscious part of my own agenda. I went for a long prayer walk in hopes of getting past this. No such luck. But I was given the image of a piece of yarn catching on something so that the fabric of my identity, of my life unraveled, even as I moved forward. I was powerless to do anything about it. Very disconcerting, to say the least.
Hope came with these words: “you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” I asked God to knit me together again, to knit me together in a new way, to be who he would have me to be.
As I walked along the edge of the lake I encountered a golden butterfly in the midst of God’s magnificent creation. God does good work. All things are marvelously made. All things belong in the context of God’s story.
1 LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
2 You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.
3 Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.
4 You press upon me 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 to it.
6 Where can I go then from your Spirit? *
where can I flee from your presence?
7 If I climb up to heaven, you are there; *
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
8 If I take the wings of the morning *
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
9 Even there your hand will lead me *
and your right hand hold me fast.
10 If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, *
and the light around me turn to night,”
11 Darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day; *
darkness and light to you are both alike.
12 For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
13 I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.
14 My body was not hidden from you, *
while I was being made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.
15 Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book; *
they were fashioned day by day,
when as yet there was none of them.
16 How deep I find your thoughts, O God! *
how great is the sum of them!
17 If I were to count them, they would be more in number
than the sand; *
to count them all, my life span would need to
be like yours. (Psalm 139)
(Photograph taken along the shore of Lake Logan, North Carolina)