Just one of the wonders of the human mind is the fact that some Alzheimer's patients, otherwise seemingly totally oblivious to what's going on around them, can, with the right prodding, break into song, into recitals of things that they've truly, as we say, learned "by heart." The mind must contain some strange memory device, some recording capacity that fills with what we deliberately memorize or else hear or speak or sing so frequently that it finds a place forever in that echo chamber. Patients who don't know their children from Ahab and Jezebel will suddenly hum ancient hymns in tact and not miss a note.
I've never been a good memorizer, so if that recording device in my mind has anything in it at all, it's likely got psalms. And for that, I couldn't be happier.
The psalms are wonderful testimonies in the broadest sense: they record just about every emotion any human being could ever know. It's all there, from exultation to despair, from ecstacy to horror--on-one's-knees thanks and damnable anger. The psalms record what it is to be a believer, a truly human believer.
There are times, there are moments, when nothing seems quite as daunting as perfection, as dispelling as a smiley face; there are times when happy Christians make me nauseous. But that's all there in the psalms, too. There are few emotional destinations that aren't already mapped in that wonderful book of poetry. Need a pal in the darkness?--you'll find what you need in the psalms.
Maybe the most lied-to question in the world is the one we throw out by rote--"So how's it going?" or the one I'll be facing soon: "So, how was your summer?" Maybe it wasn't good. Maybe it was the pits. Maybe it wasn't worth a shit--but we smile and nod our heads and lie, at least some of us. "Oh, just fine, and yours?"
The psalms don't lie, but neither am I going to lie right now because the fact is, I haven't been reading them. They're all around me here in the basement, but I've not been thumbing through 'em. But then, I know they're there. I know they're there.
And that's reason to be thankful this morning. I know exactly where to reach to find them, because I know they're there.