It’s a day when psalm 37 sounds better than all the rest, especially the parts about the wicked.
Sometimes the wicked have swords, but most of the time in my life the wicked are more subtle. They lay off a newsroom full of weary, weary people and invite them to play musical chairs with new roles and pay scales. This is not the way to build morale or foster creativity, and the “Oh well”s are contagious. Like the germ-phobic with Clorox, I’m phobic of the ways the “Oh well”s bleed into life. I’m not an “Oh well” person.
I’m always walking along behind with my rag of “it’ll be all right”s. But the rag’s sopping wet, and I’m wondering if we’re both in the wrong business.
And still, in my not-so-coincidental landing in psalm 37 yesterday, there it is: Be still, Erin.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7)
I couldn’t make this stuff up, the way God litters my view with signs of hope. The way He goes before me, before us. I say “litters,” because even though it’s abundant love and grace in words, I’m human, prone to grumble. It’s rainy-snowy-windy gray today, and God called me to be a mother of three girls, and today’s Halloween. (Maybe God knows I need some free chocolate. Maybe Halloween is really more abundance.)
All over the place, that abundance, if only I’ll look.
God, He’s really amazing, isn’t He? In school, in words, He speaks to more of us than Alice; I can’t know what He tells her. For me, today, it was in finishing up the story of the pessimistic scouts sent to Canaan in the book of Numbers — “Why did you bring us to Michigan! We should’ve died in Wisconsin!” — I’m pretty sure that’s the translation if you take it back to the original text. And, later, in Canaan … O, me of little faith.
And in the end of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Prospero tells his former enemy the King of Naples and his formerly “false brother” Antonio how he’s grateful for the time they sent him away in exile on the deserted island, because his daughter now gets to be queen someday. His daughter gets to be queen, and he got to read some books in exile, too. O, me of little faith.
And in math, we played a game of doubles and laughed, and this is a small, not-small gift, too. And this gift of just being here, doing this. … O, me of little faith.
In my own reading, in “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life,” Hannah Whitall Smith’s spent all week talking to me about the duplicity of saying we trust in God when we’re still worrying. This very book is about hardship and joy in spite of it, and here I move from academic agreement to actually having a day full of snowflakes and stress and I wince.
O, me of little faith.
I don’t want to be of little faith anymore.
And here God gives me a season to grow. OK. OK.
Duplicity’s on my mind a lot this season — I sense it in the relief I feel when the girls’ grandparents ask for Christmas lists; sweet relief: I can finally ask for things I’ve told myself all year we don’t need. My duplicity over wanting to be home with the girls, and panicking at the thought of being trapped inside with them in January.
My duplicity over asking God to move us into something non-traditional, and then wincing more pieces start to move.
My duplicity over not wanting money to hijack my imagination anymore, and then acting as if new monasticism were a lofty goal and not a way of living, now.
It’s the duplicity of hearing Dorothy Day in my head, still, a year after I read her autobiography; her life that took “Blessed are the poor” literally. She said God kept enough bills to worry them, to keep them in solidarity with the poor, and that sticks in my head when I start sighing over bills, the holes in kids’ jeans, and eggs for dinner.
Like the sparrows — That tension.
And, of course, the duplicity over living with palms open with everything, because I’ve already ceded all control, and then worrying about it for good measure, in case God needed help carrying it.
Last week I was raking leaves onto a tarp because of pure peer pressure from the neighbors. I’d drag the tarp to the back yard and dump it, and each time I committed to hauling a pile the girls would run over and start pulling corners of the tarp in opposite directions.
And that’s really it, isn’t it.
God’s got my stuff on the tarp and He’s taking care of it, and I keep grabbing a corner and saying “I helpin’ you.” And God probably thought it was cute the first time, but now, really, Erin, it’s time to let Him move it. It’s time to be still.
I don’t want to be of little faith anymore. That’s it. So, this is me: being still.