Psalm 91 (Invasion of Ukraine) – Lent 1C
Living Psalm 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.
Whenever you cry out to me, I’ll answer.
I’ll be with you in troubling times. Psalm 9:15
I have gotten to know Natalia this year
as we wait for our children to be released
from school. Most of the parents stand silently
scrolling, answering calls from the office,
planning a trip to anywhere but here.
She and I always chat. She tells me about
her baby, due in the middle of March,
and I tell her what it’s like to have two –
only the good – she knows already
the struggles to come. For now,
the sweetness is enough.
Her hands sketch stories about working
from home, and I laugh and say yes –
nothing gets done when the children are home.
This week, she is exhausted. She hasn’t slept
in four days, she tells me. Her parents,
her brother and sister, all of her friends
are in the Ukraine. To the west, she says,
as though I understand. Not so bad yet,
she says. Not so bad.
Her mother and father were supposed to come,
I remember, but the embassy shut down a day
before the visa appointment. She had been
thrilled to have them here to help with the baby,
and now every day, she tells me she thinks
they could be dead before he is even born.
She says this without inflection, without tears.
It is simply a fact. The waiting might kill her,
she says. The waiting is the worst.
But she and I both know that isn’t true.
Her daughter runs out into her arms,
and she carefully checks the barrettes in her hair,
the zipper on her jacket. Her face is rigid,
a mask I know well. It is a mother’s best defense
against grief, this tightening of the lips.
Her fists are clenched, but her daughter
grabs a hand, slides her fingers in.
I watch my friend’s eyes glass over,
her shoulders tense at this tender love.
I feel the fear rise up then, the smallest
shudder. She hears it though, or feels it,
that transmission of grief from one body
to another. We do not cry. Instead, I will
carry a piece of her sorrow – enough,
just enough for her to go on.
Living Psalm for Lent 1C: Psalm 91 (Invasion of Ukraine) 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. 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 2022 Maria Mankin. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.