Psalm 116 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 116: 12,14

“How shall I repay the Lord for all the good things God has done for me?

I will lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all God’s people.”  Psalm 116: 12-14

Waynesboro, VA, looks out for AT hikers.  A park area for tents, free showers at the YMCA, hostel at the Lutheran church, laundry, library, grocery, outfitter and an all-you-can- eat Chinese buffet.  What more can a hiker ask for?  There is even a list posted on the trail of volunteers who will drive up the mountain to pick you up and bring you into town!

One of the rare things for a backpacker is to be in town on a Sunday morning.  This was the one time in two months of hiking that it had happened.  Yes, I had missed being in worship—mostly the receiving communion part. On this Sunday morning we went to Grace Lutheran.  I didn’t go because I missed scripture and prayer; I was praying a psalm five times a day on the trail.  And I didn’t go because I missed God’s people; I had amazing conversations on the trail with people of faith and doubt.  I didn’t go because I was in need of God’s presence; living in the wild creation was full of that!  Although God had done many good things for me on the trail for which I was thankful, I didn’t go worship in a church to “repay the Lord.” How can anyone repay God, I would like to ask the psalmist.  I simply went because I had begun to realize how very much I needed God’s strength—physically, emotionally and mentally.   I understood how life on the trail—no, that’s not right—how life anytime was not something I could accomplish on my own.  I had paid careful attention to packing proper nourishment for the lightweight backpacking—proteins, calories, sugar.  But now I needed Holy Bread.  Soul Wine.  Body of Christ.  Tangible signs on my tongue, and deeper in the heart, that Christ would be walking with me, nesting in me, food for the next spiritually exhausting mountain.  My soul, encased in its weight-losing body, craved that hopeful assurance.  Sometimes a transient hiker just needs something permanently nourishing to feed on.


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 you have longed to be fed by holy communion?

2. Comment with a photo of your own that is a window of this psalm’s meaning for you.

The next post will be on Psalm 116:12-14.

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.