I found myself walking near my favorite pond again tonight. I’m fortunate to live nearby and it’s very calm and peaceful here. There are nearby woods and trails and generally an area that invites solitude and reflection. Tonight while approaching the pond I spotted a bald eagle sitting atop one of the many tall trees that surround the pond. It’s the first bald eagle I’ve seen in the wild. I didn’t get very close before he took off and flew north to a more secluded area. I wish I would have been quicker and gotten a picture of him. Seeing the eagle reminded me of Michael Joncas’ hymn, “On Eagles Wings,” which is one of my favorites. Michael’s hymn is beautiful and is based on Psalm 91. I’ve thought of the song often in this pandemic. I hope you enjoy it.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. [I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
About 5:15 pm I decided I’d drive the 52 miles north from my home to Abbey of the Genesee for Compline and a chance for some goodies from the bake shop. I climbed in the car and sped along the roadways until I arrived about ten minutes early for the final prayer of the Monk’s day. Compline is my favorite prayer time and it always features Psalms 4, 91 and 134.
You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon.Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come.You need simply watch; the punishment of the wicked you will see. You have the Lord for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold.
My recent written conversations with my nephew, reading The Promise of Paradox and my reflections on both of those have lead me to believe that being a warrior at one time is a necessary experience that lead me to the path of peace. A number of my favorite Psalms including Psalm 63 and Psalm 91 are definitely written by a warrior. St. Francis of Assisi was a warrior too. I’m beginning to think that one cannot truly love peace nor work for it until one accepts the warrior in our hearts. I was never in combat, but I was in the military and I really loved my time in the military. I still get goose bumps when I see certain displays and I’ve felt a special affinity for members of the armed forces ever since I was one myself.
I’ve noted too that many of the apologists for our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan have never served in the military, they’ve never been warriors and that is the missing piece for them. I believe that this warrior phase is necessary and until it’s embraced and celebrated a man can never be whole. One cannot be peace until one has been at war. I cannot experience redemption until I have been a sinner and the most powerful redemptions are the fruit of the biggest sinners. It all belongs.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,Say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.”God will rescue you from the fowler’s snare, from the destroying plague,Will shelter you with pinions, spread wings that you may take refuge; God’s faithfulness is a protecting shield. You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon. Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come. You need simply watch; the punishment of the wicked you will see. You have the LORD for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold. No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent. For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon. Whoever clings to me I will deliver; whoever knows my name I will set on high. All who call upon me I will answer; I will be with them in distress; I will deliver them and give them honor. With length of days I will satisfy them and show them my saving power.