Numerio 23 happens to be my great-grandfather’s favorite psalm. He and his wife would read it together every night before they went to bed. Pa has been a regular church-goer for as long as I have known him, which happens to be about 28% of his life. I suppose I’ve always thought of him as the patriarchal leader of what scant faith our extended family displays. But I’d never really given a lot of thought to his faith until this week.
To be honest, I’ve never quite known where most of my extended family (roughly 30 of us) stands with respect to Christianity. Led by Pa, with hands joined and mouths drooling over whatever deliciousness was spread out on grandma’s counter tops, it had become tradition to recite the words to the lord’s prayer prior gorging ourselves. Some would recite the words whole-heartedly, and some of us would mumble through not quite sure when to be thankful for temptation and where ask to be delivered from his kingdom. I always found this odd, given that religion isn’t a subject that I remember ever having more than one or two surface level conversations about with anyone besides my sis, mother & father. Maybe we’ve always just assumed that everyone believes something similar, and that’s good enough… even though it does not at all reflect reality. I think it might have been just one of those things we did because Pa wanted us to, and that’s as good enough reason as any.
Since I have jettisoned my faith in Christ, the recitation of a prayer that means nothing to me has made me fairly uncomfortable, but I would mumble through out of respect and love for my Pa. But there was no faith behind it, which makes me feel like a liar. Going forward the lord’s prayer will forever remind me of him, and make me thankful for the time that I had with him.
We don’t know how much time he has left, but we know that his hours are short. And it’s comforting to believe that he had the confidence that “goodness and love” did follow him all the days of his life. If he will be dwelling in the house of the lord or not, I cannot say. What I do know is that Pa will always dwell in the hearts of those of us who love him and are loved by him.
A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD