United Church of Christ

Living Psalm 23 - the valley -Thompson

Living Psalms Book
Psalms in the form of words and art, reborn in the specific contexts of our world, privileging the voices of historically marginalized communities and those acting in solidarity with them.

Living Psalm 23

the valley

a curious juxtaposition this
numbers climbing
people dying
in the whispered sacredness
of a week of the holy
standing at the foot of occupied crosses
the stench of death wafting by

memories of years past
hats made ready
pastels on display
eggs painted and polished
hidden in grass
piled high in baskets
with peeps and chocolate rabbits
celebrating spring and new life

where are your tears?
stop by the mourning bench
come, sit in the valley
come, sit with this shadow of death
come, sit with the pain and brokenness
come, sit in the wetness of your tears
come, sit and weep
on the way to the tomb

distant recollections these
as we trudge through the valley
marching through the shadows of death
we search for the empty tomb
looking for signs that we live
confronting the truth
of sickness named virus
moving unseen among us

we watch
news conferences
we wait with bated breath
curious to know
of outcomes and fatalities
waiting for signs of the resurrection
to be evidenced among us

why do we have no tears?
why not stop at the mourning bench?
come, sit in the valley
come, sit with this shadow of death
come, sit with your pain and your brokenness
come, sit in the wetness of your tears
on the way to the tomb

the silence of death lingers
broken as a knell resounds
interrupting the stillness of possibility
as sirens wail
the hope of new life longed for
in the absence of sound
we wait

the lilies are late this year
the cold of winter delays our spring
the dampness of death and sickness
a pall
covering Sunday morning sunrise
shrouding Easter with pallid surprise
where is God in the midst of death and suffering?
where is the empty tomb promised
this resurrection morning?

grief demands our tears
mourning needs no fancy seat
come, walk through the valley
come, live with this shadow of death
come, wrestle with the pain and brokenness
come, drown in the wetness of your tears
outside the empty tomb

Brooklyn, NY
14 April 2020


Living Psalm  23: the valley was written by The Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson.

Living Psalms Book is created by UCC Witness & Worship Artists’ Group, a Network of UCC connected artists, activists and ministers bridging the worship and liturgy of the local church with witness and action in the community.  Maren Tirabassi, editor

Logo is detail from Living Psalm 80 by Sophia Beardemphl, Redwoods, CA. Recovering from significant bullying, Sophia, age nine, read Psalm 80 and thought of brokenness that needs mending. She drew this broken and mended bowl.

© Copyright 2020 Karen Georgia Thompson.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 

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