(a poetic reflection on Psalm 143:1-11(12)

One of the things

about the Daily Office

is that if one offers it as a spiritual practice

long enough

we discover

that the same familiar readings

take us different places

at different times

even though

we’ve repeated the cycle

many times over.


I can’t even count

the number of times

I’ve read this psalm

over coffee

and prayed it aloud

in the presence of my dogs

(who, oddly, can be prayerful

in their own way

while I’m saying the Office.)


I used to have pity

on the Psalmist

and could not imagine

what could have laid him

this low.

The rawness of his despair

was uncomfortable to sensible ears.


And now,

two years into a pandemic

with a glimmer of hope on the horizon

but the horizon feeling still too distant

I hear the Psalmist differently now

perhaps in his best Madeline Kahn voice

singing, “I’m Tired,”


and what he’s begging for

from God,

is simply for an eternal hug
and to be in God’s warm embrace.


So I think

About all the hugs

I was not able to give

For two years,

Doing the right thing

In the name of safety

And realizing some of the folks

I wanted to give those hugs to are now gone.


Even at the end of the psalm

(in the “optional” verse in the reading

Which is never really “optional”

Because you still have to look at it

To choose to ignore it)

When almost as an afterthought,

The Psalmist takes a swipe

At those who torment him

I ask myself:
Have I been any different

From time to time?

The muttering and grumbling 

Directed at those who think it all a hoax…

The irritation 

At those who believed a vaccine was evil…

I can no longer “tsk-tsk” the Psalmist

This time around…

Because he’s me…

And I have to live with the fact

That from time to time

I’ve been just as raw and audacious with God.


Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, MO, and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as Interim Priest at Trinity-St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Hannibal, MO. 


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