“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
Received an e-mail from old friends a while back, who told me the news of their son, their oldest child, who, at 53, started feeling a bit weak, they say, a few weeks ago, and therefore went in for tests. The tests turned up something significant, and he was sent to a specialist, who identified the problem as ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.
You can imagine their shock.
But all is not hopeless. Some who suffer ALS keep going for a very long time. Others, of course, don’t. “Won't get into numbers,” his mother wrote. Right now, their son “has to be pulled up out of his big comfortable chair if he wants to get up. Has to use a walker. Totally weak arms and legs so far. Can hardly pick up his arm or hold spoons when he eats. We go see him......often.”
He has three little grandchildren who live almost next door. “They perk him up,” the note says. His wife is wonderful and caring. She pushes the wheelchair when they go anywhere. And then this: “So........... it is finally sinking in to me that this is happening to our oldest ‘child.’ I seem to call him ‘Danny Boy’ now.”
And what about him? What about Danny Boy? “He will enjoy each day as they go along.”
Ironically, most of us wish we could say that.
That Moses would write this line, that makes sense: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” His people rarely were.
It’s hard to read the story of the Exodus and not be anti-Semitic. After all that God had done for them--taking down Pharaoh and his minions in the Red Sea, then establishing his own tent right there among them thereby granting him the glory of his presence—miraculous, really! But those Israelites, never satisfied, still found things to bitch about.
Yahweh splashes manna around every morning, and they want duck in wine sauce. He gives them duck and they want sirloin. Is it any wonder they annoyed him. Should we be shocked that he told them an entire generation had to die before he’d bring them home? Seriously, the Israelites give Jews a bad name.
Once, at a burning bush, God instructed Moses to speak for him—and, in a way speak for his people before Pharaoh. In Psalm 90, that’s what he’s doing, speaking for them in Psalm 90:14, maybe especially here, as well as all of us. He’s asking for something few of us ever feel—true, rich satisfaction. Maybe lions get it; after all, they sleep away ninety percent of their lives. But do any of us? I don’t.
I don’t know Danny-boy, his kids, his darling grandkids or his loving, caring wife. But I know his parents, and I know at least something of their sadness and their great and totally understandable fears. I wish they weren’t suffering as they are and will. I wish Danny Boy wasn’t dying. I wish those grandkids weren’t losing a grandfather. Things just aren’t right in the world. There are always things to get angry about.
Moses’s prayer resonates with anyone in human skin; we all know the impulse very well of the unquenchable thirst for love, for nothing less than satisfaction. “Satisfy us,” he begs of God. It’s a song we all sing, every day and every night of our lives.
Except, oddly, Danny Boy, who will, as he says, “enjoy each day as they go along.” Except maybe him and some few like him.
Maybe better than the rest of us, they understand this great old psalm.