Psalm 123

“I lift my eyes.” (123:1)

The eyes of those walking on the way, those sitting in coffee houses, and those waiting for busses, are enslaved to the screens in their hands. The eyes of couples eating together, young people at parties, and parents at the playground with their children, are servants of their hand-held devices. We lift our eyes to you, O God; our eyes are fixed upon our companions, our children, the glorious sunsets, mountains, and fall colors of your world.

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Psalm 116

“You have undone the cords that bound me.” (116:17)

Some years ago, I developed a shooting pain up my leg into my groin. I had been having intermittent back pain, but this new development was keeping me up at night. I went to the doctor, who prescribed physical therapy. After engaging in a regular routine of stretching and light exercise, the pain went away. The experience prompted me to buy a bike and join the Y, and recommit to a moderate level of physical activity. The ligaments and muscles and nerves that connect my limbs to my body were telling me something. Good thing I listened.

Psalm 115

“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.

Psalm 106

“They grumbled in their tents.” (106:25)

When my wife complains to me about something that happened in the supermarket, at work, or with the kids, she feels better. I don’t have to do anything. Simply by listening attentively, I can enable her to off-load the frustration. However, I have trouble refraining from trying to fix the problem and suggesting what she could have done or might yet do. I want to take action because “grumbling in the tent,” only soothes the complainer, it doesn’t make the rest of the world any better. On the other hand, I remind myself, if attentive listening alone makes a happier wife which leads to a happier me and a measurable increase in world happiness. So I shut up and listen.

Psalm 90

“Let the work of our hands prosper!” (90:17)

Whether we sit at a keyboard and produce words, mold clay into aesthetically pleasing or useful shapes, or work with glass, metal, plastic, or wood, in the end we might hope that the product produced by our hands adds value to the world. The knowledge that the increase in value came from the interaction between our own hands and the raw materials is eminently satisfying. It makes us feel useful and this is emotionally satisfying. However, the artist and the inventor who go one step beyond, who create something that has never before existed in the history of the world, might feel the march of human progress through their very hands. How exciting is that!