A Single Glorious Thing
[The Lord] loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. – Psalm 33:5 (NRSV)
Sometimes it’s just plain hard to believe the Bible.
I’m not talking about things like the earth being created in six days or the parting of the Red Sea. I mean the Bible’s really outlandish claims like “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” or the psalmist’s proclamation that “the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.”
Really? What planet was the psalmist living on? Had they read the morning news? Had they looked around and seen the wars, the hunger, the injustice that filled the earth three thousand years ago as much as they do now? Believing that Moses parted the sea is a piece of cake compared to trusting that the earth is full of God’s love sometimes.
In such times, I need the wisdom of others to restore my faith. Perhaps you do, too. “In my own worst seasons,” author Barbara Kingsolver wrote, “I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard for a long time, at a single glorious thing.” For her, it was “a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window … my daughter in a yellow dress … the crescent moon.”
Kingsolver compared her process to that of someone recovering from a stroke, retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, until “I taught myself joy, over and over again.”
I wonder if that’s what the psalmist did. I wonder if you and I can do it, too.
When it’s hard to believe the earth is filled with your love, retrain us to see your single glorious thing. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Parts 1 and 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.