Say together this modern psalm, the beginning of a poem by e.e. cummings:
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(from E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems, 1904-1962)
Psalm 126 (NRSV)
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the rivers in the south.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home
with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. –Psalm 126:3
Thoughts on Scripture
These verses speak of incredible joy – the people aren’t just laughing, their mouths are filled with laughter. Things have been so good for them, it’s been hard to believe it’s all real; they’ve thought they must be dreaming.
But all of that – all of that too-good-to-be-true joy – is now memory. When this Psalm is composed, the people are sad. They are so sad that when they leave to begin their days, their tears blur their vision.
The really interesting part of this scripture is that the people feel all of it together – the joy and the sadness. The Psalm says “our mouth” was filled with laughter, “our tongue” with shouts of joy, like the whole community has only one mouth, only one tongue. It’s kind of silly to imagine, and also kind of wonderful.
The people who sing the Psalm trust God because they’ve seen rivers dry up and then be filled with water again. So they know that even when they are overwhelmed with sadness, joy will come to them again someday, too, like water comes to those rivers, season after season.
Questions to Discuss
-When have things been so good, it was like you were dreaming?
-If you all had only one mouth to speak with, what would your family give thanks for? What joys would you shout out together?
-What helps you to remember that God is with you – when you are joyful and when you are sad?
Go for a walk around your neighborhood, or even your own yard. As you walk, pick out certain places you pass, and talk about how they look different in the different seasons (in my family’s yard, today, snow covers the beds that flowers will grow out of in a few months, and our garden, which will yield lots of veggies this summer, is just a big pad of dirt now). Bring a pitcher of water with you, and take turns pouring out a little at each place that looks dry, but where you know something is waiting just under the surface. As a family, come up with something you can say together – with one mouth – each time you pour out water, something like, “God, thank you for loving us always.”
~ by Erika Marksbury