The Psalm for this week opens up a space between the dangerous and life-giving qualities of nature. Disaster and storm shake our world up. Somehow, in the midst of all that, God brings us out to a broad place, a hopeful place.
In a similar way, Matthew's gospel moves Jesus very quickly--from the glorious affirmation of God at his baptism to a time of deep testing the wilderness.
In both of these lessons, danger and grace are held together, smashed up against each other, and make us feel a little motion sick on account of the quick switch-up.
But isn't that how it happens in our lives, too? Tremendous uncertainty and anxiety come to us alongside moments of absolute confidence. A child is born as we grieve the death of a loved one. I celebrate my husband's return from war even as I grieve that someone else's spouse is sent to replace him. Inexcusable suffering somehow makes way for unimaginable grace as a victim of violence chooses a path of forgiveness and reconciliation.
These things are all tangled together. And, often, I find myself most able to find the beautiful bits when I give myself a little space. Sometimes I need to just take a moment, breathe, and ponder.
Which brings me to a Wendell Berry poem that's been on my mind for the past week:
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free