Psalms

A Little Soul

Cassatt_the_bath
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time on and forevermore.

(Psalm 131, NRSV)

I like to think I know all the Psalms, but I can't remember reading this one before.

Of course it's short, so perhaps I lost it on a page turn. And I love its brevity, its compact nature, its littleness.

"My heart is not lifted up." It's right here inside me.

"My eyes are not raised too high." I've got my eyes on what is in front of me.

"I do not occupy myself with things too great and marvelous for me." I am looking at my reality, my real life, my everyday world.

And is there another place in the Psalms where the relationship of a mother and her weaned child is used as an image? I don't know one, though I may be wrong. The relationship is not one of survival, but it is still one of trust and love and dependence. What does it mean for the soul to be that weaned child, if I am the mother?

I guess it means the soul is still tender and in need of sheltering. I guess it means my soul needs her little feet washed. That's the truth for my soul this day.

How is it with your soul?

(The painting is Mary Cassatt's The Bath.)

8 thoughts on “A Little Soul”

  1. Maggi Dawn wrote a beautiful setting of that psalm – must send you the CD one day soon.
    Meanwhile, love and prayers for that little soul

  2. This comment is not really about your words, but the picture just hit me hard today. I’m sure it’s in a Childcraft poetry book that was well used throughout my childhood. Feelings of love and security and home just flooded over me. I guess I need to pull that book off of my shelf when I get home today.

  3. My soul is a little tender this week, too, and I love this post and this psalm.
    I tend to only see the Book of Common Prayer versions of the psalms, so thanks for bringing the NRSV translation to my attention.
    Here is the BCP version:
    1
    O LORD, I am not proud; *
    I have no haughty looks.
    2
    I do not occupy myself with great matters, *
    or with things that are too hard for me.
    3
    But I still my soul and make it quiet,
    like a child upon its mother’s breast; *
    my soul is quieted within me.
    4
    O Israel, wait upon the LORD, *
    from this time forth for evermore.

  4. Ah, RDM, thank *you*, for sharing this version with me.
    God_gurrlll, that must be why I thought of this picture. We loved playing that game.
    (((Silent)))
    K, I would love the CD.

  5. the picture is beautiful, and matches beautifully with this little psalm. the CD sounds lovely, too.

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