Psalm 121, the second of the psalms of ascent, has the psalmist on the road of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On the way, both the hardships of vulnerability manifest themselves to the pilgrim. The pilgrim needs help, but where to look? All around upon each of the hilltops he passes are altars to which locals offer sacrifices to the local deities of the local’s folk religion. Why not just worship there? Why may the long arduous journey to Jerusalem? This sonnet reimagines the inward struggle of pressing forward and not relying on self and taking matters into one’s own hands.

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

Once decided, the leaving? No question.
Disgusted with the way things were,
Gladly, I set out, joined the procession—
Resolute, no hardship would deter.
But having begun the narrow, upward climb—
Stifled, stumbling my footing unsure
I look ‘round for help, for any sign,
Any assurance, I’ll arrive, endure.

I’ll manage myself; I’ll hedge my bets;
Reduce my risk, leverage my best;
Trust what I know; what my getting gets–
That my will be done, in my resting rest.

Look not to the hills but trust him to keep
Your life from all evil, give shelter and sleep.

© Randall Edwards 2017
This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.

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