Psalm 102 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 102

“I have become a like a vulture in the wilderness,

like an owl among the ruins.

I lie awake and groan;  I am a sparrow lonely on a housetop.” Psalm 102: 6,7

Night herons are said to be social birds, roosting in groups;  but when it comes to foraging for food, they work alone, sometimes perching on logs, staring into the water for their next meal.  That’s what this one is doing along the canal trail.

This psalmist is isolated, not by his choice like the night heron, but apparently by illness,  broken strength and the looming possibility of death in the prime of life.  The psalm is his lament from his bed and in one prayer book it is recommended for reading in a hospice situation.

Whether heron or psalmist, there can be many reasons for being alone—chosen or circumstantial, life-giving or heart-wrenching, or something in between.  Today I think of the aloneness which comes when confronted by decisions in life that no one else can make for us.  Times when God seems to call us (and for the moment no one else) to step out into “ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.”  Times when we must leave something we have valued in order to give and become something more. But when we make these decisions as part of our faith in following Christ, we are never really alone.  Our Lord is always ahead of us circling in the wilderness or rummaging in what appear to be ruins, or perched on the precarious branch, inviting, ready to move with us into the next thing.


1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?  Has there been a time when making a decision felt difficult and lonely?

2. Or read all of Psalm 102 to discover how this verse fits into this psalm.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that is a window of this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s psalm will be Psalm 103:11-12.

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.