Finding time for restoration
Psalm 146: 5-10 (NRSVA)
5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
It’s about ten or twelve years ago and the credits are rolling.
I’m stuck to my seat, unable to move. It’s dark and very quiet. A bleak and unsettling film has come to an end and I’m reeling. Funny word reeling isn’t it? The process of reeling can be one of gathering in or of unspooling. It can be the moment of triumph catching the prize, or the lurch of being sent flying by an impassioned eigthsome reel at the ceilidh. But often when we describe ourselves reeling —after something has happened and we are absorbing everything — we are physically perfectly still. That’s often been my experience. The reeling inside can sometimes be hidden in a blank expression. Or almost hidden.
As the final reel of the film finished its run I was motionless. I was on my own in a largely empty screening (a desert with chairs…). I suddenly became aware of a middle-aged lady across from me, wanting to catch my eye. I turned to her and she slowly said.
“It’s… okay, life is…good, there is goodness in the world.”
She had a tear in her eye and I had one in mine. I nodded and she nodded and gathered up her coat and left.
As I emerged from the cinema into the stark bright light of day, reeling now from the sun, I was able to steady myself with her words. There is goodness in the world. This woman, in a long line of psalmists, pointed to the true and everlasting.
I carefully place my hope in you
and in the faith you keep in us.
Our lives are ones of sunlight and shadow
hunger and contentment
all the while.
In your faith
we know that goodness is unfolding
reel us in
when we feel ourselves reeling.