This is a song of praise to God, and a prayer of blessing over one’s people. It recognizes the “abundance” the earth brings forth. It reminds of the prayer one of our pastors, Rev. Jenny Schultz, prays over meals at the church we attend in Chapel Hill. She begins thanking God for the good earth God made that produces such goodness as we are about to share in during this meal, and for each set of hands that are a part of getting that food on the table in front of us through planting, watering, caring, harvesting, preparing, and cooking. She then not only asks for the meal to be blessed but we to be blessed so that we help make this a life-giving world for all God’s creatures, and a more fair & just world for each person and group a part of bringing forth the food before us. I’ve learned a lot through hearing her consistently pray that way over meals, and its changed my own prayer life.
In our consumerist society it is very easy to think in terms of disposable commodities we own. I remember some years ago a song coming out that sang “there’s millions of peaches, peaches for me, … millions of peaches, peaches for free…” and then to describe how the peaches come from a man who puts them in a can. I’m not sure why that song got popular in its 15 minutes of fame, but the thing that stands out is how different it is from Rev. Schultz’s prayer. It thinks of food as a commodity, pre-packaged, got at a store. It forgets that peach came from a tree grown in good earth, fertilized by the decay of dead things, watered by water gathered from rains and rivers. It forgets it began as a seed in the ground, became a flower, waited to ripen, and only then was picked probably by hands coarse with work. It forgets that each stage of getting those peaches on the table includes the hands of others and the gifts of God’s earth.
To me this psalm reminds me of all of this. It invites me to see each thing in front of me as a gift of a good earth, a blessing of God. It reminds me that all I have comes from the earth, the sky, the waters, or the stars including our sun. It reminds me that those gifts come from the good creation passing through many calloused hands to get to my own. Holding this in mind, I have to have gratitude, taking time each day to recognize each of my gifts, to acknowledge that at work in this whole process is the One the creed calls “the Lord and the Giver of Life”, the mothering Holy Spirit who breathes life and being into all creation and who, together with the Father and the Living Christ our brother, works to make fullness of life available to all even me.
I’m struck that when I succeed in keeping mindful of this, I can no longer look at any of my so-called possessions as mine alone. I have to see them as gifts given me by God to bless my life, yes, but not just mine but the lives of those around me from my spouse to my family, to friends and neighbors, but even to bless the outcast, lost, & forgotten around me which includes at times those I experience as adversaries.
God, I am not there yet. Help raise my awareness of all of life as gift. Help me to see myself and others through your eyes. Help me to learn to treat the gifts you give me as opportunities to not just bless myself but all around me, as you in Christ have blessed me. Amen.