Psalm 77 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 77

“Your way was though the sea,

your path, through the mighty waters;

yet your footprints were unseen.”

Psalm 77:19

Reflection:   On the AT  I was very cognizant of where I placed my feet much of the time.  Rocks can be slick, uneven or unstable.  Roots can trip.  Sharp slopes can slide.  High cliff edges drop off…well, suffice it to say I would watch where I placed my feet and notice how my balance would shift under the pack’s weight.  I would also think about unseen footprints of those who had placed their feet on the trail before me: hikers I had met and with whom I had shared conversation, my son— a 2011 thru-hiker, or Emma Gatewood, the 67-year-old grandmother of 23, who in 1963 was the first woman (preceded by only  5 men) to thru-hike the AT.  To walk on her unseen footprints more than five decades later with my up-to-date gear, car back-up, and accomplishing a quarter section of what she had done seems an underwhelming venture in comparison.  Still, her footprints inspire me.  

The psalmist states a profound truth. He remembers the account, passed down from his ancestors, of a walking journey when God parted the waters of the sea leading his people from slavery into freedom.  No one saw God actually leading them.  They only saw Moses, a dreadfully frightening path emerging from what had been underwater, and lastly a fierce army chasing them from behind.  They had to walk ahead where no footprints had been, trusting all the way, and only later in hindsight did it become clear how God’s footprints had been in that event all along.  As I am writing this, my grandchildren are watching a Veggie Tale and singing “keep walking” around the walls of Jericho when it didn’t make sense why the people should do so.  Only later did God’s work making a home for them become clear.  The same was true for the followers of Jesus when he was arrested and crucified and they ran in fear; only later when the risen Christ appeared to them, did they understand the work God was doing to forgive and bring life to the world.  Isn’t it that way in our lives?  In the midst of challenging circumstances I often cannot see God’s working presence.  Only later in hindsight can I find the footprints of God all over the place.

Suggestions:

1.  Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder? Where have you seen God’s footprints?

2. Or read all of Psalm 77 to discover how this verse fits into the psalm or to discover a different verse.

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

Tomorrow’s verse is from Psalm 78:19,20.

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 http://elainedent.net 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.

Comments

  1. A famous statue on the Camino Santiago, commemorating all those in whose steps we tread

  2. First night. Roncesvalles. 180 people sleep in one enormous dormitory in a medieval tithe barn. The crowd of those who accompany us is present as well as past

  3. The fountain of Roland. This is the path used by Roland and Charlemagne and Napoleon, and before them all by Roman traders and before them by goodness knows who.

  4. We are part of a great cloud of witnesses

  5. Love the photos, Kelvin, and good examples of walking in others’ footprints. The Camino has such history! It makes me wonder how much of the trails I walked were originally routes of the Native Amercians but much of that history is lost to us.