The opening questions of this psalm ask, “Who?” and if we think that the answer to either of them is “me,” we are only partially correct.
Read on. “Walks blamelessly.” “Does what is right.” “Speaks truth in his heart.” Speaking truthfully, neither you nor I walk blamelessly but seek to avoid blame for the way we walk. You and I do what is right in our own eyes, but that is not what others see when they look at our actions, not to mention what we do when we think nobody is looking. The truth we speak contains fibs and white lies or at the very least our own interpretation of things in an attempt to make ourselves look good. It is impossible to get through the second verse and honestly see ourselves depicted.
But we are. We are because Jesus is. Jesus is described in these verses as the one who has the right to sojourn in the Lord Yahweh’s tent and to dwell on God’s holy hill. He is holy because he walks blamelessly. Jesus does what is right. Jesus speaks truth in his heart. Jesus does not slander. Jesus does no evil against his neighbor. Jesus does… and he does it for you. For me.
He does these things for our sake. He fulfills the requirements of God’s holy law as they are laid out in this Psalm and delivers them to us by suffering in our place for our transgression of that law. He qualifies us to be sojourners in God’s house through our baptism into him and invites us to feast on his body and blood that was given up on the holy hill of crucifixion.
Who? Jesus… and you, and me bought into the dwelling place of God because Jesus did what the Father willed.
Daniel did not recall when the shoe first became his home. In fact, he could not remember when he began living in the shoe. A mouse’s brain is rather small, and memories of the distant past are not something it easily holds onto easily. You may feel rather superior with your much larger brain, but you also have forgotten memories. It is entirely possible that a mouse uses a much larger percentage of it’s brain than you or I simply because it has to.
Each day (or night, he wasn’t very good about telling time) Daniel wandered out from his home in search of food. His nose twitched this way and that hoping for the scent of something to eat much the way it would when he had found something to eat and then had to sniff the air to help him find his way back to the show.
Fortunately for Daniel, he did not require much to eat and there were many tidbits in the attic for him. There was a small store of nuts left behind by a squirrel and his mate who had found their way into the attic one winter. When they left the following spring, they had either forgotten to take e it with them or easily found more elsewhere. Daniel would return to tis stockpile from time to time, depending on what his type of munching he desired.
Sometimes Daniel would opt for the cardboard from the boxes that had been stacked in the attic by the owners of the house. Nobody had ever told Daniel that cardboard was not particularly good for him and so he would use it to fill his empty tummy. Despite its lack of nutrition, it made him full and ready for a nap.
There were other days that Daniel found scraps of what we would call human food. He didn’t really know how it had gotten there, whether it had fallen from the sky when he had been asleep or it was merely something he had not come across during his earlier hunting and gathering. You or I might think that eating “our” food was quite the treat, but for Daniel food was food, and if he ate too much, all he really wanted was a nice, long nap.
Daniel the mouse lived in a shoe. He wasn’t particularly proud of this. It’s just where he lived.
It wasn’t a bad place to live. The shoe had fallen out of a box that had once been stored in the attic and then removed for donation to some charity or another that sold outgrown clothing. There was no mention of only one shoe in the donation box, and it is entirely possible that the other shoe became a home for another mouse, but that is another story.
Daniel’s home was loved. The shoelace itself showed signs of how much Daniel loved his home. He could not prevent himself from chewing on it from time to time because that is what a mouse does. Chew. At one time or another Daniel had chewed a little on every part of his home the shoe, but not so much that the shoe looked any worse than a well loved shoe that had been worn for many years.
It kept him warm when the attic became cold in the winter. It carried the comforting smell of leather when the summer heated the attic to almost unbearable temperatures. It was his home, and that was where he where he returned at the end of his days and where he felt safe and where he slept each night.
Pillow soft beneath my head
Blankets piled upon me
A bit of sheet over my ear to block out air from the ceiling fan
Curled up like a baby
Squeezed into my own space
My mind grows blank
Whisking away the troubles of the world.
Gusts of wind echo outside.
Branches line with buds and tips of green bounce and sway.
The house stretches and crackles like the knuckles of a third grade boy who has learned a new trick.
Inside the cats curl around themselves, their eyes tightly shut but their ears alert.
Distantly the cries of a child object to napping right now, a lullaby softly persuading.
My own breathing slows and the tension subsides.
Worries dissipate for a time.
Nose pressed against the window
Cold on the glass
Breath clouding my view
A mourning dove standing guard
His mate tucked into the branches
Keeping her eggs warm and safe
I cannot reach them
They cannot hear my voice
So I watch and yearn
For what they have
I had hoped to continue writing each day even when Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge was done, but we can all see where that has gone. I can make all sorts of excuses in such a way that you might actually believe them, but honest lips would confess that I just have not let myself get started. So you’ll excuse a short reflection in an effort to get back on track again.
I haven’t been all that excited about my personal reading either. I have stacks of books on the small shelf by my bed, so many that i just decided to start at the top. I came across No More “I’m Done!” by Jennifer Jacobson and tried to talk myself out of reading it since it is geared for the primary grades. I’m glad I didn’t. Just over twenty percent of the way in, I have come across so many ideas that I want to use in my classroom. Many of the problems she addresses are problems older students have because they have never been given an opportunity to become independent writers. Rather than point the finger, I see that I have not promoted independence consistently.
So I have added an item to my “When We Go Back” list: Review No More “I’m Done!” for things I can do to make my writers more independent.
As difficult as it is to get started some days, others finally bring a larger task or project to completion, a woo-hoo moment that could hardly be envisioned at the start.
Let’s take some time to celebrate those accomplishments, no matter how small. Listen to the people in your life who are unlikely to bang their own drums for those moments and nod approvingly with them. You will not always know what it took for them to get the result they wanted.
Looking ahead, it will not be that long before we return to our classrooms. I doubt that it will happen before the scheduled end of the school year, and some forecasts have the effects of the pandemic extending through the fall, but in the grander scheme, it will only be a small part of our lives. I hope for that day and for that joy.
A list was compiled and off we went. We filled the cart and brought it all into our home, wiping things down just in case. After all that effort and care, it just doesn’t appeal to me right now.
I confess a certain dissatisfaction here on day whatever it is since we started taking this pandemic thing seriously. Do I really have to get up this morning? Taking a walk to get a little exercise really shouldn’t be such a chore, should it? Won’t the things I don’t get done today still be here tomorrow?
Why must I feel this way?
Some other time the cod in the basement freezer would have inspired me. It would have provided a challenge to my cooking abilities and probably still will in the not-so-distant future, but last night I just could not wrap my head around it.
I turned to the pantry shelves for pasta and sauce and to the freezer for Italian sausage. I threw in a slightly wilted red bell pepper and we served it with fresh raspberries from our weekend shopping.
And it was good. Everyone had seconds. Comfort food.
And on tonights list? Omelets. But I hear a riff on Rick Bayless’ 420 Tacos calling. And whatever tomorrow night held can be replaced with a simple broccoli quiche.