Give ear to my words, O Lord,
give heed to my sighing,
listen to the sound of my cry,
My King and my God,
for to you I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice,
in the morning I plead my case to you and watch.
Psalms 5:1-3 NRSV
My friend baked a cake for me; a chocolate one with cream she whipped and piled with red raspberries. I was waiting for her to drop it off—no, I was watching for her. And that is what I did, I watched. I actively looked for her. I knew I would see her when she turned off McNeil onto Linkleas. I stood in front of the window ready to greet her when she drove up.
We live on a very narrow street that really doesn’t go anywhere. The street is just a few blocks long, between two other streets that are more efficient for travel- if you’re trying to get someplace else in the city. We have two large windows on the front of our house and no door—the “front” door is actually on the side out to the driveway. It is easy to miss someone coming, or for someone to miss our house hidden behind a large evergreen, but it is here, the first house on the street.
A day or two later, I read this Psalm and noticed how the Psalmist asks for God’s attention: give ear, give heed, listen to the sound of me. In turn, the psalmist will plead and WATCH. I think this choice of verb is significant. I’m not a Walter Brueggemann but I take care with words. So often we tell ourselves to wait; wait for something to happen, wait for God’s action or some kind of answer. Several other translations of Ps. 5:3 say to “wait” but I’m holding on to “watch.”
There is a sense that after we “plead our case” in the morning, we spend the rest of the day actively watching. Watching – not trying to figure things out or simply waiting while we’re distracted by something else, but staying present to see and enter into what is already here.
See the goodness that is part of watching for where and how God is already present and be there. That presence is in the reassuring words of a friend, the startling wisdom of a three-year-old, and the kindness of my own 40-year-old child. That presence is in the sadness that I cannot explain and in circumstances that turn out okay. And in every changing color and shape of the sea and sky, through the delicacy of the white fawn lilies in the woods, and reflected in the camas that came up through the gravel outside my back door.
On the nights we say compline, we repeat this Antiphon:
Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.
Watch with Christ. This isn’t a solitary adventure.