Yesterday I half-noticed the ups and downs of my moods as I walked through a day of cooking and bill-paying and long distance phone calls and son on — a day that felt slow-moving because household things take so much time, especially when you cook from scratch. It was a day infected too with a tendency to fear about mild physical symptoms I’ve had a long while on and off and that have an as-yet unknown cause. And in this day, I noticed once more that a sense of well-being ebbed and flowed, as if the inner weather were fair but partly cloudy, or overcast with a few bright clearings.
In Psalm 57, David is in an overcast season, living in a cave hiding from Saul. Yet he imagines the vast mercy of God as something high above the heavens, unreachable by the forces of Saul seeking to kill him. He both solicits and announces God’s steady love for him . . . . he perceives his situation beyond his immediate circumstances, not to escape them, but to stand firm in them and know that safety and vindication are possible — even declarable NOW in some sense beyond kenning.
I noticed yesterday too that my sense of well-being suddenly materialized whenever I had a human interaction — a communication on the phone with my parents; a cheerful witty brief exchange with my friend Bill, promising him a portion of myself to accompany him on a walk he was just about to take around a lake in Arkansas (“But WHICH part of yourself, Miss Czar?” he asked).
A flow of life in tandem with others seems so crucial for our ease in praising God. The psalmists often depict an ability to praise God with and before others as the culminating proof that God has rescued and redeemed: “My foot stands on level ground; in the assemblies I will bless YHWH” (Ps. 26:12).
It is humbling to know how vulnerable we are from moment to moment to pitching into a chasm of dread or a sense of all falling apart . . . and to being pulled back again to a green and spacious place by a sense of another’s cheerful or sturdy presence with us. If we attend carefully, it’s not hard to see that every day is a spiritual battle, or a pilgrimage with competing directions and, perhaps, a slow learning to stand still with everything that journeys across our interior life.