“A deaf viper stops its ears so as not to hear the voice of charmers.” (58:5-6)
Our inner voice is generally good at telling us what we ought to do. The problem is that there are other voices around us that utter conflicting messages, tempting us to do what benefits us rather than what is right, or take the least challenging way over the path of virtue. Listen to your inner voice but if you hear yourself saying, “Don’t confuse me with the facts because I’ve already made up my mind,” be open to the possibility that it’s your inner voice that’s charming you and leading you astray.
“My life is among lions.” (57:5)
You might be one of the fortunate few who live in the bubble of a kind, supportive, and nurturing community. The rest of us live with a mixture of people, a portion of whom are aggressive, self-focused, and success-driven. They are lions, the predators who are out to kill the antelope and drag it home for dinner before someone else spots it. It is possible to find a refuge from the lions in a religious community or a selected social group, but be prepared and protected for those times that you venture out into the real world, whether it be the PTA or the workplace.
“Regarding the silent, far-away, dove …” (56:1)
The doomsday clock hangs on a wall in the University of Chicago’s office of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Standing two and a half minutes before midnight, it signifies how close the world is to a global catastrophe.
A dove is a symbol of gentleness and peace. The closer the hands on the doomsday clock are to midnight, the farther away is the dove. The closer in we bring the dove, the farther back the hands move. While the achievement of world peace is not entirely in our hands, we do have the power to lay the groundwork to let the dove know that she is welcome.
“Would that I had wings, like a dove!” (55:7)
Why not wings like an eagle, or a vulture? Wouldn’t any wings do, to give me the ability to soar above the earth? The answer is that any achievement, especially any piece of technology, can have a dark side, a violent or abusive function. A dove is a symbol of gentleness and peace. When we wish for flight, we also ought to wish for the wisdom to use the technology wisely, a lesson that Icarus learned too late.
“Adonai, who supports my life.” (54:6)
The human body, or any living system, plant or animal, is a miracle of complexity. Whether by evolution or by the word of God, life is a wonder. The individual life-form, from its cellular level functions to its large-scale interaction with its environment, has to function nearly perfectly in order to survive. I choose to express my gratitude for my existence to a God who created me and infused me with a life-force and sustaining energy. When the time comes for my life to end, I will gratefully return both my physical and metaphysical being to the Creator.