“They have hands, but cannot touch, feet, but cannot walk.” (115:7)
Those people whose bodies don’t function in typical ways are objects of curiosity, pity, and sometimes fear. People who walk on artificial legs, who pick up their silverware with artificial hands, who use a cane to see what is in front of them, or communicate with their hands and arms, remind of the fragile nature of our lives. They are us, one step away from the accident, illness, or aging which will take away some of our mobility or sensory function. They, like us, can thank God for their bodies which uniquely express the gifts of their souls.
“Accessible to all who desire …” (111:2)
Accessibility means making a place for everyone who wants to participate. This means providing ramps and wide doorways, Braille materials, hearing amplification, and presenting a fully inclusive, welcoming presence to all. When an institution begins selectively narrowing down the type of person who is welcome in its midst, it creates an atmosphere of privilege. Members evaluate each person who enters against a list of criteria. Those who measure up are welcomed, those who do not are turned away. For newcomers, entry becomes an unpleasant experience of being judged worthy or not. An accessible institution is one which opens its doors to all who desire to enter.
“Wrapped in a robe of light…” (104:2)
Light represents purity. Light contains the complete range of colors in the spectrum; therefore, purity also embraces a diversity of colors. To extend the metaphor, it also embraces a diversity of genders, orientations, religions, political positions, and all of the other differences in humanity that contribute light. From this I exclude acts of hatred, aggressive violence, and any other evil which takes light away from the world. The entire world will be enrobed with light if and only if we achieve the messianic vision of destroying implements of war, sitting down with our historic enemies, and building a Temple of peace at which all people can gather and be thankful to the Source of their wisdom.
“May this be recorded for a later generation.” (102:19)
I do most of my writing on a laptop and the content of my thoughts is saved as a series of electric impulses, magnetic bits of data, on a Solid State Drive. Those bits are backed up to an external spinning hard drive and also to several data centers located at various points around the United States. Your ability to read my reflections depends on the ability of my website to translate those bits into text or speech. In contrast, one hundred years ago, the scribe who wrote the Torah from which we read used a feather and some ink on animal skin. Sometimes I wonder … whose technology is more likely to be read by a later generation?
“I stretch out my hands to You.” (88:10)
Human beings are social animals. We need contact with others. In particular, God created us in pairs, to be in relationship with another. To reach out to another person is either to show our vulnerability and admit that we need help, or to notice that the other is in need and offer assistance. The image in this Psalm is particularly poignant. The seeker of aid needs to stretch, reach beyond his or her comfort zone, to plead for assistance.