Gladdening the heart
Psalm 104: 10-15 (GNT)
10 You make springs flow in the valleys,
and rivers run between the hills.
11 They provide water for the wild animals;
there the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 In the trees near by,
the birds make their nests and sing.
13 From the sky you send rain on the hills,
and the earth is filled with your blessings.
14 You make grass grow for the cattle
and plants for us to use,
so that we can grow our crops
15 and produce wine to make us happy,
olive oil to make us cheerful,
and bread to give us strength.
Wine to make us happy, olive oil to make us cheerful, and bread to give us strength — three simple basic commodities to sustain us. I do like my glass of wine, while knowing there are folk who don’t, or can’t. But this week’s wine theme is only part literal — it is also part symbolic and part poetic.
This passage is poetry, of course — the psalmist’s description of springs and rivers, trees and birds, fruitful fields and generous crops, and the feeling of sheer delight in creation and in the bounty of the earth. I can hear Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, or Haydn’s Seasons which has a most joyful section about the wine-making.
We have recently been made to look at the environment with rather different eyes, realising how we have plundered it and wasted its resources. Now in a time of crisis we are seeing the realities of our food chains, our just-in-time deliveries, our dependence on a huge number of unseen and unsung workers, who turn out not to be unskilled at all.
How our perceptions are changing.
This is Palm Sunday, and will be a Palm Sunday like none we have ever known. There will be no processions, no Hosannas loud Hosannas, no Palm Crosses to take home, no public worship at all. But in our isolation we can make time to read again the story, to follow the events of this Holy Week, and to pray for the world that so desperately needs to be reminded of what really matters.
The world belongs to you —
the earth and all its people;
the fruits of the earth;
our daily bread;
all that makes us happy, cheerful and strong.
In these strange days,
may we be care-ful,
and generous with the bounty of your world.