Reflections from Psalm 1, Morning Prayer October 12th …
Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful. (Psalm 1:1, NRSV)
When I read this verse, it drives me a little crazy. I feel like I am failing because I know that at some point in my life I walked in the counsel of the wicked, lingered in the way of sinners, and have sat in seats of the scornful. So, to give myself a chance, I change the tense to reflect the future. I cannot do much about the past, but I can live differently in the present and into the future. So Instead, I pray … Happy are they who do not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor linger in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seats of the scornful. This way, even if I find myself there, I can get up and leave, get up and turn another way, get up and repent!
When I look to this psalm to instruct my life, I wonder what the word scornful means. I think I know the negative, what it doesn’t mean … being accepting, open, tolerant – compassionate. But what does it mean in the positive? Judgy jumps out at me. This word – that isn’t a word – judgy kind of works for me (you know judgmental). Imagine someone standing a little ways back from the crowd, for distance is essential. Her arms are folded, hip is cocked out to one side, and lips are pursed. This person makes everyone a little nervous, and isn’t that the point? If I judge you lacking and show it, I have the upper hand and therefore you cannot judge me. Right? If I deem you “the worst,” I have to be better than you. So it isn’t just judgment by itself, in scorn there is implicit harshness and the need to find someone or something lacking any grace or good. When I catch myself doing this, it often comes from my own fears of being unworthy, not good enough. Are our fears of lacking grace and goodness deep enough that they cause our arms to fold, hip to cock, and lips to purse all while hardening our hearts?
When we are as compassionate and loving to ourselves as we to our most beloved, we won’t need to sit in the seats of the scornful. We will know we are enough as we are and see “that enough” in those around us as well.