Psalm 122 – I lift my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
There are few more beautiful places on earth than the southern Appalachian Mountains. And down in those mountains is a small women’s university that has special significance for my family. Their motto is from the opening lines of this beautiful psalm.
As a child I used to ask my mother what the Latin motto meant, and she would refer me to this psalm. As I have aged, and especially during my incarceration, this psalm has taken a special place in my heart. When I look to the walls around me, I remember where my help comes from. When I feel like I will be pushed around, I remember who it is that keeps my feet firm. When I grow tired and feel defeated, I remember that the Lord who protects me never grows weary or sleeps. When I battle strong temptations, I remember who it is that will keep me from evil. And when my heart breaks over the length of years ahead of me in prison, I remember whom it is that keeps all my comings and goings.
A prisoner who loses his faith is doomed. He is doomed to fear, anger, and self-destruction. Whenever I feel overcome, I remember what and who my faith is rooted in. And I often recite to myself this psalm.
“That it may please thee to have mercy upon all mankind, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord” BCP152