Psalm 142

“No one cares about me.” (142:5)

In the course of a busy life, there are times when we might feel invisible, as if others are passing us by as if we don’t exist. It may not be malicious, just our busy family and coworkers engaged in their day, but nonetheless the feeling of being ignored hurts. As we go through our day, might we make it a point to notice and acknowledge the people we pass by? Perhaps make a point to smile, exchange a greeting, or ask a question that shows that we recognize and care about them. Show that you care.

Psalm 141

“Give ear to my voice when I call to you.” (141:1)

Of all the skills that nurture a relationship, the skill of knowing when and how to listen is at or near the top. Listening is caring. A person who listens superficially for the opening to turn the conversation back to himself and his needs and interests is hearing, but not listening. To listen is to know that the response to a question is not necessarily an answer, but an affirmation that it is a serious question. A listening ear takes in and relieves pain, simply by being receptive to the deepest expressions of the other.

Psalm 139

“You discern my thoughts from afar.” (139:2)

Most people can read thoughts because they are written in our facial expressions and in our tone of voice. People with certain atypical neurological pathways have difficulty reading faces, but often can learn to recognize and understand that which neurotypical people process without conscious thought. Individuals with low or no vision pay more attention to auditory cues than those with typical vision. In normal conversation, it is not so much a trick to discern thoughts as it is a skill that can be developed by learning to pay attention to all aspects of communication.

Psalm 133

“It is like fine oil on the head.” (133:2)

Most 21st century Westerners find the thought of pouring oil, no matter how pure, into their hair, gross and disgusting. But it need not be so. It happens that the main ingredient in soap is some kind of oil or fat. Combined with lye, it lifts oil from surfaces. Shampoos are chemically more complicated, because their purpose is to clean the hair without removing all of the natural oils. Pouring a small amount of pure extra-virgin olive oil into one’s hair was a ritual of consecration. It was luxurious, and brought out the natural luster and shine of one’s hair, an ancient spa treatment.

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.