My Psalm 19
June 26, 2014
Henry David Thoreau once said: “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.” Perfect, sure, right, clear, pure, true. Those are adjectives used to describe the Creator, the Supreme Spirit, Allah, God, Yahweh, G-d, Mother Earth. Some might even use them in describing Jesus although others would say if Jesus was a man, then he could not also be a God, etc., etc., etc. But is there an expectation of those words being used to describe us or something about us? Would we want them used to describe us?
Perfect. Most would say that humans cannot be perfect, although generally that statement is more a defense than a real belief. Many spend millions trying to achieve physical perfection. I have never heard of anyone critiquing a star on the red carpet at a Hollywood gala saying: “Oh, dear, look at Miss Star-of-the-Moment in that coffee-stained, lime and pink dotted bodice with that far too short purple and orange striped mini skirt and bright yellow boots covered in mud. Of course it is understandable that she looks horrible; she’s human.” In 2008, the YWCA USA organization issued a statement paper entitled “Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women, YWCA”. They published some fairly amazing statistics. For instance, a woman spending fifty dollars a month on a manicure could instead invest that fifty dollars a month in a retirement account. If the account earned eight percent interest to be compounded annually, in ten years the woman would have earned herself over nine thousand dollars. They also quote mental health professional Maggie Vlazny: “Self esteem is a core identity issue, essential to personal validation and our ability to experience joy.” We tend to expect perfection in others and are critical to their humanness.
Sure. While self-esteem comes from within, outside factors validate it or destroy it. No matter a person’s job performance and their ability to do the job, personal appearance has also been proven to be a deciding factor in people receiving pay raises. Perception is how we process stimulus. It is based upon what we know, our past and our present. A hungry person is seldom as cordial as one who has just satisfactorily eaten their favorite food. If in our past, every dog we ever saw was vicious, then we will assume all dogs are vicious, an incorrect assumption but correct when considering only the dogs from our past. Of course, that assumption does not consider the reason for the dogs’ behavior. There is only the certainty that one’s expectation of a vicious dog will be correct.
Right. Trompe-l’œil is an art form in which the artist paints something that isn’t really there. It is a specific art technique dating back certainly to the Greeks and perhaps farther back that uses realistic imagery to create an optical illusion that depicted objects exist in three dimensions. In architecture a similar technique is called forced perspective. While tromp l-oeil has gone in and out of fashion in art and murals as well as the use of forced perspective being the architect’s saving grace when needing to build something larger than life on a small budget, it should not become a way of life. Sadly in some political circles it has, without apology, some even boastful of their deceit in being “right”.
Clear. Clarity is a necessary thing when moving forward. It is also necessary when involved in communication. A translator might end up causing a war if it was not clear as to the context of the word. For instance, translating the word scale could get a bit tricky and result in a lack of clarity. The word scale can mean the flattened rigid plate forming a part of the body in an animal, an instrument used for measuring, a metal sheathing attached to a piece of artillery which protects the gunner, a series of notes differing in pitch arranged according to a particular pattern within an octave, a specialized leaf, a think flak of epidermis, an indicator with graduated marks, to climb by means of a ladder, a specific reference standard approved by an organization or governing body, relative magnitude, a regulated pattern….one word, many meanings, not so clear without proper context.
Pure. While any young child would correctly define “pure” as being clean and without harm, most of us want it to be evidence-based proof, a definitive answer that will never waiver, cause harm, and hold up to the test of time but more importantly to the ravages of man. Good luck with that and “he who is without sin” can really expect purity. Most of us just cast stones, in our impurity.
True. Interestingly enough, the word “true” is really one of the world’s simplest words in definition. It means that with which one is in agreement. There are no volumes of standards to meet, no evidentiary rules with which to comply. You simply have to believe it for it to be true. Perhaps we should return to the word’s origin in etymology. Originally it meant “having good faith” or “steadfastness”.
What we do screams what we believe. Most of us think our actions hint at our beliefs but that is incorrect. The man who scurries past the street musician without throwing a dollar in the hat but spends two thousand dollars annually for a symphony membership so that he can brag and hobnob with the upper echelons of society is screaming that he really could care less for music. The woman who fails to see the homeless in our society as being regular folk who simply haven’t a place to hand their hat is not a compassionate soul. The truth of our actions, in our effort to be perfect, clearly illustrates the inconsistency in our truth and purity of motive but emphasizes our sureness in the making materialism our god instead of having faith. Every person is beautiful but we must work at showing and living that. If we are to show God’s love, we must believe in His glory of ALL creation – not just that which the plastic surgeon can carve.
After all, the same sun is as beautiful in its rising as in its setting. What counts is that we simply anticipate its beauty and novelty without critique. Surely, it is true, perfect, clear. It is only right that we acknowledge its truth.
This Psalm concludes with one of my most beloved scriptures and I balk at an attempt to rewrite it. First I would like to quote its closing verse:
“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.”
My Psalm 19
Help, O Lord, to see your glory in all.
Help me not to be critical or lazy;
Help me to show your Love.
May all I do, think, and say
Reflect your glory, your strength, your faith in man.