We’ve traveled many and various directions this summer seeking the rest, renewal and repose of vacation. Has anyone recently visited New Mexico? It is one of my favorite states, especially northern New Mexico where my seminary classmate, the Rev. Talitha Arnold, is at the United Church of Santa Fe. Her words made an impression on me. I share them here and now with you.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
– Psalm 71:3-4 (NRSV)
Pinyon trees are the Methuselahs of northern New Mexico. The sturdy, compact trees live about 450 years. Some make it to a thousand—quite a feat in a land with average rainfall of 10 to 18 inches. Pinyons also survive desert heat, bone-chilling cold, thunderstorms, flash floods, and wind.
Moreover, some pinyons don’t have the sense that God gave geese. You see them clinging to the side of a canyon wall or atop a mesa, unprotected from the elements. Yet still they last. How do they do it?
Simple. They wrap their roots around the biggest rocks they can find and hang on for dear life. Pinyon taproots are 20 feet long, but unlike the roots of trees in less harsh regions, pinyon roots seldom grow straight down. Instead they curl around rocks solid enough to hold them against the storms.
Whoever wrote Psalm 71 probably never saw a pinyon tree, but they knew what you need to survive in desert places and times. “You are my rock,” the psalmist wrote. “Rescue me from the wicked, the grasp of the unjust and the cruel.” Give me something to hang onto in the storm.
Psalm 71, like a pinyon tree, invites us to consider what our lives are wrapped around. When the storms come, what do we hold onto?
I hope that you are looking toward our new program year, beginning on Homecoming Sunday, September 8. The church of Jesus Christ is the rock against the forces of hell shall not prevail. But you and I cannot cleave unto the church and its Christ unless you are here with us. Make plans to be here for the Katharine Hedlund Trio and our reunion picnic that unfolds afterward.
I so look forward to that date and seeing your tanned and shiny faces smiling back at me.