The clear, concrete familiarity of that first line comes on this troubled morning like a gift:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
For a moment, it burns away the thick underbrush of want, pain, and need. It casts the soil under my feet into sunlight. It brings one near to believing that this thing is true.
Oh to be shepherded through the longest night, the darkest shadowed valley of abandonment. Oh to know for a moment the absence of want, the quieting of one’s scream against the madness of things.
A body longs for it to be true more than almost anything else. If this is reality, then all other can be endured.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Green pastures. Still waters. Right paths. I can almost recall their shape, feel again the softness under bare feet, the cool of lapping water, the pleasure of a path that aims–however erratically–at a destination rather than petering out in the confused shapelessness of the bush. There was a moment, almost a lifetime really, when joy was the default, when laughter crowded in and flowed down like a rushing stream even when justice seemed to have slowed to a trickle.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
Perhaps this gnawing, soul-gutting solitude is not alone-ness but the slightly skewed perception of being so because the one who accompanies veils himself for reasons only he can know. But does he indeed accompany? Does he walk even here, know the heat of these tears, tune to the uncommon, unrhythmed cacophony of a grown man’s sobs?
It is too much to be believed, this lack of want. Maybe it will become true in its moment, even if the darkness does not quickly, does not ever, turn to light.