Wrapped Around a Rock

Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
Psalm 71:3-4 (NRSV)

Pinyon trees are the Methuselahs of northern New Mexico. The sturdy, compact trees live about 450 years. Some make it to a thousand—quite a feat in a land with average rainfall of 10 to 18 inches. Pinyons also survive desert heat, bone-chilling cold, thunderstorms, flash floods, and wind.

Moreover, some pinyons don’t have the sense that God gave geese. You see them clinging to the side of a canyon wall or atop a mesa, unprotected from the elements. Yet still they last. How do they do it?

Simple. They wrap their roots around the biggest rocks they can find and hang on for dear life. Pinyon taproots are 20 feet long, but unlike the roots of trees in less harsh regions, pinyon roots seldom grow straight down. Instead they curl around rocks solid enough to hold them against the storms.

Whoever wrote Psalm 71 probably never saw a pinyon tree, but they knew what you need to survive in desert places and times. “You are my rock,” the psalmist wrote. “Rescue me from the wicked, the grasp of the unjust and the cruel.” Give me something to hang onto in the storm.

Psalm 71, like a pinyon tree, invites us to consider what our lives are wrapped around. When the storms come, what do we hold onto?


Rock of Ages, help us pray our way back down to you. Help us remember to wrap ourselves around your love and hang on for dear life. Amen.

ddtalithaarnold2013.jpgAbout the Author
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Part 1 and Mark Part 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.