By Madeleine Callahan
St. Mary Monastery Oblates have started our second year of studying psalms more closely so as to deepen our experience of them.
A Jewish friend asked me if we were studying the psalms for content, form and their history or contemplatively. I answered, we do a bit of everything with the psalms to make them feel “alive” and significant in our lives.
Our Bloomington/Normal group has had poets respond with their own poems and artists do drawings. But mostly we have had deep sharing of our spiritual paths and questions.
I wanted to show our group how Sr. Irene Nowell, OSB had taught me and countless others how to bring a news item into the praying of a psalm, changing just a few words to make it specific to the news story or personal experience.
I’ve adapted Psalm 72, a royal psalm, to the current extraordinary moment of unity and clarity of identity for many Native American tribes (or First Nation people) who feel called to prayerfully protect Mother Earth, specifically, the waters crucial to the survival of the Standing Rock Sioux.
They face strong opposition by corporations and governments eager to lay down the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
The tribe’s leader, Archambault II, is like the unspecified King in psalm 72, as he is called upon to protect the vulnerable, and voices are raised in prayer for his vision to be heard and to last forever.
This adaptation helped our group to perceive the power and significance of this communal prayer. Please enjoy!
Adaptation of Psalm 72 to the Native American protest of the Dakota Access pipeline
1 For the Standing Rock Sioux Chief
Creator God, give your judgment to the Chief;
to this group of chiefs
your sense of what is right;
2 That the Chief may watch over Your people and this water with justice,
Your oppressed and defiled with right judgment,
3 That the plains may yield their bounty for the people,
and the rivers great abundance of life,
4 That he may defend the oppressed and our dead,
save the children of the poor and crush the corporations.
5 May the Chief’s Spirit live as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, forever.
6 May his Spirit be like rain coming down upon the fields,
like showers watering the earth,
7 That abundance may flourish in his days,
great peace, till the moon is no more.
8 May his wisdom be known from sea to sea,
from the origin of the Missouri to the Gulf.
9 May executives and governments cower before him,
the enemies of the Earth lick the dust.
10 May the chiefs in Alaska and California bring support,
the chiefs in Oklahoma and Florida their gifts.
11 May all chiefs see his vision,
all tribes hear his call to non-violent action.
12 For the Chief will rescue the water from pollution,
the sacred lands that needs protection.
13 Our First Nations no one listens to,
He hears and redeems them;
14 He protects their lives from violence and extortion
for all life is precious in his eyes.
15 Everywhere may the Chief be heard, getting the ear of Washington,
be prayed for without cease, be blessed day by day.
16 May buffalo abound in the land,
flourish by the clear waters.
May his truth be admired
and spread to the cities like the grasses of the land.
17 May his Love of Mother Earth be forever;
as long as the sun exists, may his vision endure.
May the nations of the earth recognize his wisdom
and all the tribes regard him as an Elder Warrior.
18 Blessed be you, Creator, God of the universe,
who alone does wonderful deeds of Love.
19 Blessed be all of creation on our planet!
May God fill all the earth with glory and life.
So be it! So be it! Amen! Amen!