Psalm 147 — For Skeptics


Loose takes on the themes and images presented in each line of the original text…


What does “Praise Yah!” mean? Think of a time – I know you’ve had one – maybe singing the one song you know. Was it at a campfire, or that time you went to shul? Many bodies, one voice, the sense of “I” expanding and diluting.


You may not be convinced of this, but I assure you, something was put together that day – notes and chords and buzzing bones. A fleshy antenna for something cosmic.


Like far-flung comets drawn to an inner orbit, set alight, their icy hearts afire, jagged crusts smoothing and exhaling.


You may not believe me, but consider this, that sitting in your pew or on your log, you were plugging in to something grand – a universe of stars, each one, like you, known by name and story.


Try to picture the Mind behind it all. You can’t of course, but in the stretching of that inner eye, you may catch a glimpse of curious sparks, a luminous vibration, something … else.


This may not yet make sense at all, but you’ll know it when it happens. New strength will well inside you. You’ll glimpse the moral order of a falling leaf, a sprouting lilly.


Don’t be afraid the next time someone offers you a drum, or a tamborine perhaps. Don’t know the words? Just a la la is enough to join, to merge, for just a moment.


To connect with a great mystery, that powerful alignment that fills a violent universe with utterly improbable oases.


Sun and clouds and rain and food that – can you believe it? – just pops out of the ground.


Plugging in to all of this is not easy, but it is simple – even for you. Perfectionist, overachiever, analyzing everything. You’ll get it all back later.


You don’t have to let go for long. Just a moment, really. And with any luck – if you prefer to think of it as luck – you’ll come out the other side a little soothed, lightened.


There’s a reason you’re so strong, you see, but not in the ways you think you are.


There’s a reason you keep going, and if you really want to put your finger on it, just keep singing.


One by one, you’ll see and hear and taste and smell and touch uncounted blessings. Dozens. Hundreds. Dripping, flowing, flooding.


There will be other moments, I should warn you, when you’ll tremble. You’ll feel small, not in control.


A brittle leaf afloat in stormy winds across a vast estate of continents.


One speck, a temporary form, a molecule of flotsam tossed by vast and ancient cycles.


Creation and destruction, great breaths in, breaths out.


That fellow Jacob – the one from last chapter – dropped his guard and suddenly understood. And his eyes were opened to unseen worlds.


But we want, of course, to take it step by step. When you’re ready – or better yet, just before you’re ready – take up the drum, join in on the next line. Sway and dance and sing with us, yourself, with all existence. And then – this is my hope for you – “Praise  Yah!” will feel as if it makes a little bit of sense.

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