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The epigraph for Psalm 142 reads: “A contemplation of David. A prayer when he was in the cave.”
How wonderful that David knew God could hear him from his gloomy hiding place. These thoughts, shared today, were written during the summer of 2014, at the beginning of my mum’s precipitous decline, and from my season of beginning to learn what David already knew.
Today, we learned that my mother is losing her sight.
Yesterday, we learned that our neighbor had passed away. He was in his nineties, a World War II veteran. Even as his body was failing him, he was still puzzling over crosswords a few days before he died. A good mind, a good man, a good life, but because it has ended — because I have spent time today explaining eye surgery and its risks to my mother — I am writing from a cave.
I cry out to the Lord with my voice . . . I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble, (verse 1).
I’m complaining because my mother’s small world is becoming even smaller. I’m declaring my trouble before God, because our neighbor died in Florida before we could say good-bye; because his home across the road sits empty; because he missed the blooming of the lilacs.
The ringing phone with its news has sent me to my cave, and I am undone at my heart’s failure to improve its disposition by reading ahead to verse 7: “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name . . . for You shall deal bountifully with me.”
For now, the future tense seems way too late, and I wait in my cave for a daylight that may take its time in coming. While I wait, there is a rightness to this quiet darkness, because it leaves space for remembering another summer: Four little boys, two middle-aged parents, and our elderly neighbors making s’mores around the fire pit. The mosquitoes had called a temporary truce, ceding the rights to our yard back to us long enough to ponder the delicious melding and melting of chocolate and marshmallow. I peppered our neighbor with questions about WWII. Warmed by the light of that fire (then and now), I remember a story about his friend Ernie and a café in Paris. (His wife later revealed Ernie’s last name: Hemingway.)
Is this the bounty David found in his cave? Memory?
Could it be that true bounty is the willingness to have what God wills?
The willingness not to have what He does not will?
O, LORD, I sit in the same company David found in his cave. You are the Light that shines in this dark place, “until the day dawns and the morning star rises in [my] heart.”