The title of this post is the opening line of one of my all-time favorite songs that we sang in chorus in high school. I forget the full title of the song, but we always just called it Majesty and it was a favorite of just about everyone I knew in chorus. The words of the song are derived from the words of Psalm 8, when David is proclaiming the glory of God.
Psalm 8: Lord, our Lord, How majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You have made them rulers over the works of your hands; you have put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim in the paths of the seas. LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Davis is astounded that God would have such regard for man that He would make “them [men] a little lower than the angels”. As I reflect on this, I am filled with the same astonishment as David. God, Creator of the Universe, designer of mountains, sculptor of the seas, all powerful and omnipotent God, regards us humans as only a little lower than the angels. It seems impossible to me sometimes because there are time when the vastness of creation seems to shrink me down in comparison and it becomes easy to forget that God knows me, that He resides in me, and that it’s possible for me to know Him too. He chooses this, and I must choose it too.
In the psalm, David also praises the works of God’s fingers. The actual created world: mountains, valleys, rivers, oceans, stars, planets, and all the rest of creation. And what a wondrous creation it is! Last weekend, we took a trip for our fall retreat. We went down to Cochise County and stayed at the Half Moon Ranch, nestled in the Dragoon Mountains near the Cochise Stronghold. Like so many times in this beautiful corner of the country, I was confronted by the beauty of creation.
Far from city centers, the stars popped out. And there were more than I ever could have thought possible. I also saw several shooting stars, a new(ish) experience for me. The vastness of the night sky and the seclusion of the ranch where we were also afforded me my first glimpse of the Milky Way. Needless to say I felt small and insignificant. But I marveled at God’s creative genius and I wondered how it could be that the God who created the vastness of space is mindful of me, an infinitely small being in the “grand scheme of things”…
The highlight of the fall retreat came on Saturday morning, our last full day in Cochise County. Mirra, Mary, Alison, and I left the ranch around 7:30 in the morning to hike, boulder, and climb our way to the Cochise Stronghold, where a tribe of Native Americans held out against a US Army force. What a climb. During the course of our 3.5 hour journey, we walked almost seven miles, climbed the equivalent of 113 floors, and burned almost 2,000 calories (statistics provided by fitbit). We confronted the challenges of the trail, climbed open rock faces and pushed through jelly legs and tired minds. The reward was one of those rare views of the world from on high. Houses were small, other mountains were at eye level, and we could see far into the distance. We witnessed some awesome rock formations. We witnessed the quiet of isolation. We appreciated the beauty of the desert and the mountainous terrain. Most of all, we reveled together in the counqering of a challenge and in the beauty that God is. He is there in the mountain, in the challenge, and in the overcoming. And, even in our smallness, He knows and loves us. It is an incredible, wonderful, overwhelming, amazing feeling. Last weekend was good for me to remember that feeling, to appreciate creation, and to reconnect with my housemates.
The night before the climb, before finding the Milky Way and playing some awesome games, we had an impromptu praise session. With only a ukulele and our voices, we praised God with songs familiar and unfamiliar. With one voice we praised our Creator. And that moment of communal singing rivaled the climb to the Stronghold as a high point for me.
Salmo 8: ¡Oh Jehová, Señor nuestro, cuán glorioso es tu nombre en toda la tierra! Has puesto tu gloria sobre los cielos; de la boca de los niños y de los que maman, fundaste la fortaleza, a causa de tus enemigos, para hacer callar al enemigo y al vengativo. Cuando veo tus cielos, obra de tus dedos, la luna y las estrellas que tú formaste, digo ¿qué es el hombre, para que tengas de él memoria, y el hijo del hombre, para que lo visites? Le has hecho poco menor que los ángeles, y lo coronaste de gloria y de honra. Le hiciste señorear sobre las obras de tus manos; todo lo pusiste debajo de sus pies: Ovejas y bueyes, todo ello, y asimismo las bestias del campo, las aves de los cielos y los peces del mar; todo cuanto pasa por los senderos del mar. ¡Oh Jehová, Señor nuestro, cuán grande es tu nombre en toda la tierra!
Thank you, Creator God, for your creation, for your knowledge of us, and for community.
And so we go.
So we’re coming to the end of Veteran’s Day. This is always one of my favorite days of the year because of the outpouring of support and recognition for and of our servicemen and servicewomen. It’s something I wish I could see all year round.
The past couple weeks have been crazy busy. Last week we joined with the YAVs from Denver and Austin (shout out to y’all for hanging with us for a week) for a border delegation that took place in Tucson, Douglas, AZ, and Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. Over the course of this trip we were exposed to parts of our immigration system, the border, and life in Agua Prieta, as influenced by the border. We learned about Cafe Justo, a direct source, no middleman coffee roastery that partners with co-op farmers living in communities around Mexico. We learned about the journey, or part of it, of migrants through the desert to the border. We learned about organizations in Agua Prieta that work with migrants on their journey to the US. We talked with a Border Patrol agent and a federal judge who oversaw proceedings for Operation Streamline, which expedites the sentencing process for migrants who are caught crossing into the US illegally. We learned about and were exposed to the humanitarian crisis at the border, the dangers of crossing, and some of the details of the antiquated system of immigration used by this country. We confronted the difficulty of finding solutions to the problems surrounding the border.
The humanitarian need surrounding the border was hardest for me to confront. It’s one thing to hear about the deaths and the wall; it’s quite another to experience that firsthand. I know that my opinions and ideas and potential solutions probably differ widely from my brethren in the YAV program, but I also know it’s impossible to deny that something should be done. Our system should be updated. Bilateral solutions should be found that include both sides. Ideas should be considered from all parts of the political spectrum, and real debate on those ideas should be encouraged. Consensus should be formed. And then, I think real solutions, lasting solutions, can be found and utilized. This is my hope. This is my prayer. Because, if I learned anything last week, it’s that something needs to be done.
Now to the election, the other big happening of the last two weeks. I don’t want to dwell on this, but I do want to say something. And that something is to share the thoughts of someone in the sports world, Ernie Johnson, who comments on the NBA for TNT. Please take a moment to listen to what he has to say. You can find the video of this here. In the aftermath of a contentious election, his words encapsulate my thoughts and how I want to conduct myself moving forward. That and he says everything much more coherently and succinctly than I could ever hope to.
Señor, nos guarde en su palma. Nos sane. Nos consuele. Abra nuestros ojos al valor inherente de nuestro prójimo.
And so we go.