Psalm 145

“Every day I will bless You.” (145:2)

It is not enough to say ‘thank you’ once and expect that it will serve to affirm one’s gratitude for an indeterminate period of time. The world does not owe us anything; the debt goes the other way. We owe the world, and we ought to cultivate the mindset that we justify our existence when we spend our lives giving. So any time that we receive, we bless the giver in order to remind ourselves of our obligation to show gratitude for all that the Giver of life has given us.

Psalm 144

“His days are like a passing shadow.” (144:4)

A cloud, an object comprised of a wisp of substance, blows across the sun and casts a shadow. The human life is compared to that shadow, a non-object of no substance at all. When we are here, we are barely here. Our lives hardly make a difference, the equivalent of a brief cool respite on a hot day. Yet we are human, we are sentient, and we have the power as a species to recognize our mortality and construct elaborate mythic structures to give our lives meaning. Even a wisp of a cloud has the power to eclipse the sun, and a weary traveler on a hot day gives thanks for that moment of shade.

Psalm 143

“Do not enter into judgment.” (143:2)

The temptation to judge other people according to our standards and expectations is high. Despite protestations to the contrary, a religious life invites making such judgements because we have the yardstick of sacred scripture as both a measuring device and a stick with which to beat transgressors. Resist the temptation, unless there is a strong potential that you or someone else will otherwise be hurt. Instead, walk a mile in their shoes and try to understand why they do what they do. Cultivate compassion, rather than judgement.

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.