In Such a Time
May the glory of the Lord endure forever. – Psalm 104:31 (NRSV)
Several years ago, I joined a 21-day do-it-yourself raft trip through the Grand Canyon. Every day everyone loaded the boats, rowed, set up camp, cooked, cleaned, and packed up the next morning. Most days we also hiked the side canyons.
One person had more sense than the rest of us. In the middle of a hike or setting up her tent, she’d simply stop and look around. Sometimes she’d lie down, gazing in silence at the sky or the canyon walls. When someone asked if she was okay, she simply said, “I’m having a beauty attack.”
This reflection comes only days after the massacre of school children in Uvalde and two weeks after the slaughter of African Americans doing their Saturday grocery shopping in Buffalo. Perhaps as for you, the images of grief-stricken families and terrorized children are seared in my mind. Perhaps like you, I am angry beyond words that we continue to let such carnage happen in this country.
I initially thought this reflection would focus on today’s text from Galatians 6:7-10, where Paul proclaims, “God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.” His judgment of the Galatians could be titled “Letter to the Americans.”
But perhaps like you, I cannot live on anger alone. I am grateful that today’s lectionary pairs Paul’s prophetic words with Psalm 104’s praise of God’s creation and the reminder that God’s intention is not carnage and suffering, but glory and even joy. Like the psalmist and my friend, I need to be open to God’s “beauty attacks.” Perhaps you do, too.
May your glory endure forever, O Lord. May we have the sense to see it and trust it, even in this time, especially in this time. 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.