Deciding in the Shadows

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“My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make melody. Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn.” – Psalm 57:7-8

My dear son is like his mother. Getting up early in the morning does not excite him. I rushed in his room last Friday and said, “Hurry up, we can’t be late! Come on. Let’s go.”

The seven-year-old responded, “Mom, stop. Just stop. I have happiness and I’m not afraid to use it.”

I was stunned by the power of his words and how they resonated in his posture. He could not avoid the early wake-up, but he was resolved not to be overrun by it. Our young teacher reminded me that some discomfort is so peace-thieving it calls for an audacious response. When we offer ourselves liberating thoughts, our spirits are incubated until the change we need comes.

Psalm 57 opens by telling us David is hiding in a cave. King Saul wanted to kill him, and so David needed to hide for a while.

Let us pause here and admit we too easily judge the fearful. We are useless to one another if our humanity is not acknowledged and regarded. Let folk be human. No one wants to be hiding in a cave, but one committed to living will not focus on the cave, they will focus on freedom.

This text gives us an ear to David’s freedom song. He tells of his steadfast heart. He tells of his resolve to sing. In the shadows of that cave, he spoke to his own soul. There were no priests in the cave to “preach good.” He had to be his own sermon, choir and Hammond. There was no option to dump the details on Facebook or Instagram. Discretion was critical to his safety. Furthermore, discretion is critical to our safety. Some songs are to be sung solo.

In his 1922 poem “From the Dark Tower,” Countee Cullen wrote, “Not everlastingly while others sleep … we were not made to eternally weep.” Beloved Community, despair is not our portion. Deciding not to suffer, while still in the shadows, is a spiritual blow to all wickedness dispatched in our direction.

There will be times when joy does not come in the morning, so you must wake it up in the night. David sings, “I will awake the dawn.” That sounds to me like, “I have happiness and I’m not afraid to use it.”