My summer consisted of a chaotic circus with too many monkeys and not enough sleep for the ring master. We didn’t commit to many plans – making it to the grocery store and a few friend meet ups were plenty for us. No classes, no soccer camps, no big camping adventures. Partying half the night with a nursing baby and active toddler, and then trying to support the growing mind of a four year old with questions upon questions upon questions…. Well, we basically did a lot but did nothing. It was a pretty good summer for this introverted momma.
So amidst the monkey acts and the over-doses of caffeine, our church had an interesting challenge of memorizing a Psalm. When the idea was first presented, I giggled to myself and was like, “YEAH RIGHT. I CAN’T EVEN MAKE COMPLETE SENTENCES IN MY EVERY DAY SPEECH. HOW COULD I MEMORIZE FORMAL SCRIPTURE?” But the idea still clung to my sleep deprived brain, and I caught myself scanning the book of Psalms to find the shortest set of verses to complete the task.
There were some that seemed like contenders – you know, like Psalm 100 that had a mere five verses and an already well-known jingle – but that felt like cheating. It was then that I flipped a few more pages and my eye was drawn to the word CALM. You might already surmise this, but my life is anything but calm these days (see the monkeys and no sleep above), so I couldn’t help but peruse the lines. And then the phrase weaned child rose out of the verses. I am deep within the breast-feeding world right now: consuming 3,000+ calories a day to keep up on production, stuffing pads in my shirt to ward off embarrassing leak-throughs, figuring out which outfits are most easily pulled up or down or sideways for accessibility, fostering the love-hate relationship I have with my double electric pump, and the plentiful late night minutes (hours?) spent with a baby curled up with me in a rocking chair while he sleepily fills his belly. So why a verse about calmness and a weaned babe? Here is the text…
“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time on and forevermore.”
-Psalm 131, NRSV
I was encouraged by the words of the Psalm. It reminded me of the calm and quiet that comes when baby no longer needs me every two or three or four hours. Or if I take time for myself, I don’t have my breast pump as a side kick, or worry about ice packs and bottles and milk storage baggies….. All those details and tasks fade when baby is done nursing. My body quiets from the fervor of providing for another living being. Sure, I will miss the snuggles and the significance of being a source of nourishment once I am done, but the calm that will come from the end of that season is also enticing.
The second half of the Summer Psalm Project was to create something that represented the verses we chose to memorize. I’m no artist, but came up with a simple sketch of a mom and small child with the lettering of the verses built into the lines of the figures.
You may have noticed a lack of English as part of the sketch. When looking through the different Bibles we had around the house to see which version pulled most at my word-smithing side, I remembered a bilingual Bible we had tucked on our bookshelf. Given the brevity of Psalm 131, I thought I’d up my game and try memorizing it in Spanish. Plus, the sound of “amamantado” was way cooler than “weaned”, and bonus points because most people won’t know if I mess up! Here are the words for those intrigued by the Spanish like I was…
“SEÑOR, mi corazón no es orgulloso, ni son altivos mis ojos; no busco en grandezas desmedidas, ni proezas que excedan a mis fuerzas.
Todo lo contrario; he calmado y aquietado mis ansias. Soy como un niño amamantado en el regazo de su madre. ¡Mi alma es como un niño recién amamantado!
Israel, pon tu esperanza en el SEÑOR desde ahora y para siempre.”
-Salmos 131, Nueva Versión Internacional
If you were challenged to memorize a Psalm, what would yours be? How could you soak it into your current stage of life and see through new eyes? Though I’m not quite at the calm of a weaned babe, the words of Psalm 131 will help soak in the preciousness of these last few months of baby-ness before Cormac is a rough and tumble toddler and running to keep up with the other monkeys of the house.
Enjoying the days of a nursing babe a little while longer,