For the past year or so, my husband Dan and I have been reading through the Psalms, one each morning at breakfast. It's a small nod to the monastic "liturgy of the hours", where songs and scripture are a mainstay of the devotional life. I hope as we read the psaltry through on a continual basis, the poetry will sink into our hearts and minds, the phrases becoming a part of our soul vocabulary.

When our children were younger, I would pick out a psalm to read upon occasion in the morning. As I thumbed through the pages of our Bible, I would be surprised at how many psalms were not what I wanted to read. Full of suffering, questioning, anger, prayers for vengeance, they were not the upbeat, inspirational sort of thing I thought was appropriate for sending children off to school. No, I'd skip right on by 'til I found a psalm with "heavens declaring the glory of God" or encouragement to "praise Him with the 10-stringed lyre."

But today, upon waking to read of yet another tornado devastating parts of the south,  I am realizing the importance of putting words to our grief and pain. I cannot imagine waking up to half of a town being gone, the anguish of loved ones lost or missing, whole livelihoods shredded into rubble. And this is just one of the calamities of the spring. Japan continues to be on my mind, its people trying to make new lives in the traumatizing aftermath of the tsunami and subsequent aftershocks, not to mention the nuclear contamination. And in between Japan and the US, there are numberous countries in political upheaval, their citizens living in fear and uncertainty. 

Our breakfast psalm, attributed to King David, seems fitting for today. Although short, its prayerful petition touches upon a variety of emotions: a sense of urgency, an awareness of judging eyes, the belief and hope that relief may come from a great God, and the reality of personal helplessness. I admire the fact that it does not end on a triumphal note. Though there is faith in the goodness of God, the psalmist leaves us with the subjective experience of despair. I offer it as a prayer for all those in distress.

Psalm 70
Hasten, O God, to save me;
   come quickly, LORD, to help me.  
May those who want to take my life
   be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
   be turned back in disgrace. 
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
   turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you
   rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
   “The LORD is great!” 

But as for me, I am poor and needy;
   come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
   LORD, do not delay.