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Psalm 139 on a Wednesday night

When I speak to children
I speak in a voice that gathers them in
Even while they tumble across the carpet
Like puppies with clothes
They whine and yip and yelp occasionally
But when I tell them we are going to light a candle
They know why
To remind us God is present
God is not the light
But the light reminds us God is here

If we just notice, I tell them

When I ring the chime they become still like statues
Following the sound into the silence

When I read the psalm they close their eyes and listen
One gestures wildly as he works to see the images in his mind’s eye
Another sits quietly still, legs crossed, her hands resting
My daughter leans her head against my leg
They see the wide ocean, the wilderness sands, the sky
They see light and darkness, a path, the deep earth

And they all see men
I am disturbed most by this
The psalm is written in the first person
Search me, know me, lead me, hold me
And yet they do not see their way into the psalm

Instead they see a man –
not a boy
not a girl
a man
every last one of them
I say nothing, but wonder if any of them will see themselves

It takes time (I remind myself) to find one’s soul
In the ancient and eternal words

What does it mean, I ask
We cannot hide anywhere from God
No matter where we go God will be with us
Even outer space
There is no good and bad

With their moral and visionary imaginations alight
We wet the paint brushes
Water color becomes the rejoinder
Fearfully and wonderfully they paint
Color fills up both the dark and the light
Fire leaps from the page
Water flows
Thick forests are full of danger and no path can be found
A single boat floats in the dark ocean
A candle shines but is not lit
Doves spread their wings and dolphins laugh

We gather once more to rest in the text
I read the final time through
And say a prayer of thanksgiving
There is nowhere to go that God is not already
Then they line up to take turns ringing the chimes

We come to the end
And we are still
with God