Living Psalm 34: 15-24–Pentecost 13B

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 34:15-22 –Pentecost 13

After pulling through the drive thru at McDonald’s,
I stop, food thrust into the laps of my children,
so that I can rummage around and find cash 
for the man sitting with a little brown sign.

It’s not a good spot for begging. I almost said something 
about it when I handed him the money, that if he moved 
to the stop sign at the corner, he might do better. 

But I didn’t. I gave him ten dollars, and wished him 
a nice day. I drove the boys to the library 
a few blocks away. They were excited 
to have french fries and to pick out
new books for the week. 

I was still thinking about him as I carried 26 books 
back to the car, timed the boys as they raced 
across the lawn holding hands, pulled trash
out from between the seats. Was it his first time? 
Had the ends stopped meeting unexpectedly, 
or had he seen it coming for awhile, 
and now he has to eat.

Maybe he was afraid no one would stop 
no matter where he sat, no matter what message 
he wrote. Maybe he didn’t want his friends 
from high school to see him, or his mother.
Maybe he didn’t want me to see him, not really. 

I remember when I lived on three dollars a day, 
when my bank account held a single paycheck, 
and luxury meant a long walk down a quiet street. 
I’ve gone to bed hungry because it was less painful 
than asking for help. I’ve made myself invisible too. 

And now the part of me that brushes against God 
is responsible for easing the suffering I see. 
That sliver of holiness that eases my pain 
when I’m lying at the bottom of everything 
is meant to do the same for all those I meet.

Today, I can give with two hands, so I do.

Living Psalm 34: 15-24 for Pentecost 13B, was written by Maria Mankin.

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.

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 2021 Maria Mankin. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.

Living Psalm 34, 15-24–Pentecost 13B