"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully. I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion, and gentleness. I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, cynicism, discouragement, and self-importance. I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,*
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely* goodness and mercy* shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.*
1) "...you are with me;" "...comfort me;" "...in the presence of my enemies;" "...my cup overflows;" "...all the days of my life;" "
2) My first thought is that I wish I bore the "presence of my enemies" more gracefully. The darkest valley doesn't bother me too much, but people who openly wish me ill will are hard to be around. And, of course, everyone who disagrees with me, or has unreasonable expectations of me, or judges me, wishes me ill. That's a compulsive mind at work, but its so easy to go there, especially if I'm already tired, stressed, or overwhelmed. And tired, stressed, and overwhelmed is a common state in church leadership these days: the world is changing, and congregations are struggling to adapt, declining in the process, grieving the way things used to be. I know the remedy is to remember the anointing, and the cup that is overflowing; to remember that the rod and staff are still with us, comforting us; to remember that goodness and mercy follow us... we don't have to struggle to keep up with goodness and mercy running ahead...
3) What is the invitation in all this? Any number of lines from this psalm are an affirmation to sit with and absorb: "fear no evil;" "you are with me;" "comfort me;" "you anoint my head with oil;" "my cup overflows;" "goodness... shall follow me;" to sit with any one of these lines or combination of lines and let them dwell in my deepest heart.
"Holy One, just to be on the safe side, I want you to know that it would be okay with me to spend a little less time in the presence of my enemies, but if that isn't possible, keep me mindful of your presence and of my cup that indeed overflows."
Breathprayer: "...my cup overflows."