Crags! Brilliant!

This morning I hit a phrase that always makes me laugh. I think next to “raisin cakes,” “rock badgers” is the biblical reference that most steers my mind to a liturgy of Monty Python.

Psalm 104 starts off churchy enough. I love the phrase “The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment,” a line that has made its way into one of the most popular contemporary worship songs of the decade. But then we get into a clunkier litany of animals and some of God’s ideas on how they might get along splendidly. What do you get the goat who has everything? Hills! Perfect! And for the rock badger? Crags! The name nearly gives it away, really.

We don’t sing about rock badgers much (or hyraxes, or conies, or however your translation might render this), but the psalmist sees the poetry of every living thing God makes being made in relationship to God. Nothing has been made that does not fit into a whole, into a dependence on the loving creator. Everything that is is God’s provision, is part of the love of God enacted through the ongoing creation and sustaining of the world.

This reminds me of earthy Celtic prayer, which has made an impact in recent years among people of various faiths, and connects so well because it draws the dirt and food and creatures and tasks of daily life into consciousness of the worshiper. Like much of the psalms, and like rich and wide traditions of Jewish blessings, the Celts prayed in a tenor that belonged to the kitchen and cathedral both:

Come on, churning, come;
Come on, churning, come;
It’s God of all did give the fruit,
And not a hag-charm with a root.
Come on, churning, come;
Come on, churning, come;
Come, O Bridget calm-bright,
And bless the milk of kine.

(From Elizabeth Harper Neeld)

It reminds us that God is with us – always. Nothing is untouched by glory. Rock badgers and all.

What are some of the everyday encounters, tasks, objects etc. that you might draw into your awareness of God’s grace? How might you shape a prayer in response?

I was asked to write an “Everyday Prayer” for a class with Richard Peace, and sort of missed the deadline:

A Prayer for a Late Paper

Redeem, O God
Time and intentions misplaced
Secure in me the present truth of your word and work
Over and against my late submission of task and text
Be in the stroke of the graders pen
As you are kneeding into me the leaven of temperance
perseverance
and glory to You in all things.

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