The Prickly Psalms

September 1, 2010

When I was about eight and my sister was getting comfortable riding a bike sans training wheels, my mom took us for a bike ride. My sister was slowing me down so after a few blocks I, Ms. High and Mighty reigning from the seat of a pink and teal Schwinn, began imitating my sister, largely focusing on her stability efforts. As I swiveled in front of her — one handed mind you — I laughed and taunted. Then I hit an uneven piece of the sidewalk with such force that my handle bars inverted, a consequence that went unnoticed until I stopped crying, accepted the massive hole in my knee, started riding again, approached a stop sign and tried to brake. Unable to find the brakes in time, I sort of toppled onto the grass.

My sister was horrified. She didn’t even laugh though I would have doubled over had the same happened to her. She felt bad but I blamed the crash on her anyway, accusing her of using special mental powers to knock me down.

Now of course, I don’t believe my sister willed me to fall off of that bike. At that point in time she was too sweet to do something like that. Today she might will it. Not because we’re falling away from each other, but because she’s an adult. Trained to be polite, I believe we adults are much more prone to waste time making enemies by hoping bad things happen to random people. For some reason we think it’s OK to us our intellect to hurt people.

These first 20 psalms are morose and, in my opinion, a real insight into how much time adults spend holding onto negative energy. In these psalms we don’t know who is speaking to God (it seems to be a fill in the blank situation), but this person continually asks God to punish his enemies. Can God protect him against his enemies? Kill his enemies? Punish his enemies and at least three additional generations of enemies? I’m sorry, but if you’ve got God’s ear, why go on and on about enemies? How can a person have so many enemies and what the hell happened to world peace?

When I started this blog, I couldn’t think of anyone I consider an out and out enemy. But that’s because my definition of enemy was too narrow. Yesterday I was nearly run over by an individual who was biking in my tiny little bike lane on the wrong side of the street. I glared at him and then moved to the inside so he could pass, but he followed suit so I had to swerve again to avoid a major collision. As I zoomed by I thought, “I hope you get hit — not hurt — just shocked, by a car, maybe another biker.” In that moment, that poor guy who may have been British, drunk or high, became my enemy.

I doubt a child would have acted similarly. They probably would have laughed and moved on. I cursed and wasted 20 minutes of my own time willing destruction.

It’s bothersome that the unnamed person in psalms 1-20 has so many enemies, but I think I understand how it happens. Potential enemies are everywhere. Customer service rep. Check. Mailman. Check. Cyclist. Check. Hippie. Check. Barking dog. Check. Etc.

When I fell from that Schwinn I immediately got what I deserved. Eye for an eye. But when are all of my enemies’ ill wishes going to fall down on me? I suppose that will be the day I revisit psalms 1-20.

“Lord, please protect me from my enemies. Hide me in your wings. Oppose them. Punish them. For now, they are upon me.”

Stopping Point: Psalms 21-41

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