Save me, O God, *
for the waters have risen up to my neck.
I am sinking in deep mire, *
and there is no firm ground for my feet.
I have come into deep waters, *
and the torrent washes over me.
I have grown weary with my crying; my throat is inflamed; *
my eyes have failed from looking for my God.
One of the things that got disrupted when we lost power for a week was my morning routine of praying Morning Prayer in the Church once my husband is off to work and my daughter is off to school. Before I let myself get overwhelmed with the day’s tasks, I try to center my day with Morning Prayer. Part of what I love about Morning Prayer is that it keeps the scriptures actively in my prayer life. From time to time, a text that I would never have picked out myself jumps out at me with vital meaning for the day.
That happened last week when I was finally able to get back to some semblance of normalcy after the Hurricane and Nor’easter. Psalm 69 was the assigned psalm, and before I could even get past verse one, I was overwhelmed with the images of the past two weeks: destructive waters covering homes and businesses; the waves of water sweeping away children; the tears as homes burned to the ground. Scripture, and especially the psalms, does not often literally describe what is happening in modern times. But on this day, in this time, this psalm seemed to be an ode to those of us recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
But the psalm also beautifully did what psalms always do – metaphorically capture the struggles and joys that we face. As I prayed this psalm, the waters became the anxieties that were up to my neck. The mire was the mess of emotions left behind as life did not return to normal. The deep waters were the struggles that seemed insurmountable, whose torrents kept pushing us under.
“In your great mercy, O God, *
answer me with your unfailing help.
Save me from the mire; do not let me sink; *
let me be rescued from those who hate me and out of the deep waters.
Let not the torrent of waters wash over me, neither let the deep swallow me up; *
do not let the Pit shut its mouth upon me.
Answer me, O LORD, for your love is kind; *
in your great compassion, turn to me.”
And like any good psalm, in addition to venting my pain, the psalm invited me to turn to God, giving words to my prayer. But the prayer was not just my prayer. The prayer was a prayer for all of us. For parishioners still without power, for parishioners facing the cost of cleanup, for neighbors not so far from us who lost everything. The words not only offered a tender request to God, they also offered the urgency that I felt in the depths of my heart. I am so grateful for Holy Scripture in times like these – in times when the people of God have been there before and who give me permission to be fully human and vulnerable with God.