View print-optimized version

Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, October 23, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 84:1–7     

How lovely is your dwelling place,
   O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
   for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
   to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may lay her young, at your altars,
O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
   ever singing your praise.

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
   in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca
   they make it a place of springs;
   the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
   the God of gods will be seen in Zion. (NRSV)

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” This psalm gives voice for the people’s love of Jerusalem as the divine dwelling place. Having visited Jerusalem, I agree that it is a beautiful place. But when I think about where I most strongly sense God’s presence, or dwelling, it is not in any city. Sacred places for me are found most often when I am walking along a narrow dirt path through a forest, gazing at a colorful sunset that fills the whole horizon, sitting quietly near a babbling brook, breathing pure air alongside the ocean, or looking with awe upon a magnificent mountain. God is present to me especially in nature.

In 2009, the phrase “nature-deficit disorder” was coined to describe the human costs of alienation from the natural world. Human beings in our nation, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, which can result in a wide range of behavioral problems. Doctors are prescribing that we spend at least fifteen minutes each day, or two hours each week, in nature. Studies show that even having a plant in one’s home, or being able to see a tree through one’s window, helps renew us. I have recently been feeling the accumulated effect of more than eleven years of living in a high-rise building on the thirty-second floor, surrounded by other high-rise buildings and lots of concrete, with neither tree nor grass outside our windows. My soul yearns to spend more time in nature. When I do, my spirit is fed. “Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.”

Sustaining God, help me regularly carve out time to be with you in sacred places, that I may be strengthened and renewed by your Spirit. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

Devotion index by date | Id like to receive daily devotions by email