Blessed are the man and the woman
who have grown beyond their greed
and have put and end to their hatred
and no longer nourish illusions.
But they delight in the way things are
and keep their hearts open, day and night.
They are like the trees planted near flowing rivers,
which bear fruit when they are ready.
their leaves will not fall or wither.
Everything they do will succeed.
a Stephen Mitchell translation of Psalm 1
I remember when a friend shared this translation of Psalms with me–the first psalm stuck with me ever since. A few Sunday evenings ago we began our conversation considering this psalm. What images stood out? What resonated with us? What came to mind as we slowly read together?
Many beautiful things came from this discussion — and yet one person really left us all with an image we’d not soon forget. “But they delight in the way things are . . .” The image that came to mind for a grandmother in our group was, well, a grandmother! “A grandmother loves you no matter what,” she said. “She doesn’t look at your failures, your ‘what ifs’, or even your successes,” she continued, “a grandmother looks at you with eyes that see you as you are — who you are — and opens her arms to you.”
Sure, not every grandmother conveys such a present and gracious mindset. And yet, we in the room, GOT IT. We understood what she meant. It was like a breath of fresh air.
Maybe this Psalm conveys a progress through life? As it’s translated here — can’t you see this? When we are young — we are always grasping for new, for more, greedy for experience, achievement, and recognition. As we grow older (or wiser — not necessarily connected with age) — we see through such greed. We experience the fleeting nature of success and even failure. We even begin to look at life less through eyes of expectation — with illusion. But we begin to see things as they are.
And seeing things as they are often leads us to cynicism. You know the kind. “Nothing will ever change.” Or my favorite (sarcasm), “It is what it is.” And to some degree— yes, things are the way they are. What is — is what IS! And yet, wisdom still hopes for change — but not through illusion but action. And wisdom also lets go of the hate that often fuels cynicism.
It is a process to end up as the grandmother.
- The gracious one.
- The eyes open to reality one.
- The eyes open and still gracious one.
- The arms open – eyes open – endlessly offering grace one.
And just how do we think it would affect us — and others to experience such arms open kind of grace? Wouldn’t it be enough for us to firmly plant our lives and grow? Wouldn’t we be like the “tree firmly planted by the water?”
We’ve been talking process — the reality that WHERE WE ARE — isn’t always where we will be. And WHERE WE WERE isn’t necessarily something we can get back to — or need to get back to. We live the new normal — and yet, there will always be a fluidity, a process, a journey in our life (and our faith).
Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we’d stay close to the “track” that leads to greater love? David seems to paint that picture here. Jesus seems to call us to such a “track” — such road — such WAY.