For the last few weeks, I’ve been carrying with me an index card with Psalm 131 written on it.
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
The Psalm was one of the readings in the Revised Common Lectionary schedule for last Sunday, and my weekly bible study suggested carrying the text around and reflecting on it throughout the day. So I did. And I’ve been thinking about weaning.
My close friends recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and they have been discovering the wonderful mysteries of breast feeding. Breast milk is such an efficient source of nutrition for infants that their little bodies can digest nearly every bit of it with hardly any waste. But someday, their bodies will change — they will grow up — and this system won’t work anymore. They’ll have to get their sustenance in other, less efficient, ways. They’ll have to be weaned.
The Psalm encourages us to have a soul that is like a weaned child with its mother: a soul that has passed a milestone of development and maturity that means it no longer needs perfect, direct nourishment; a soul knows better than to cry every time it feels hungry; a soul that is learning to find food for itself. And yet, this soul still finds comfort, even without that intimate connection. Sometimes, presence is enough.
Each time I look at my index card, I remember that God’s presence can be enough for me. I remember that I am striving to have a grown-up soul that calms and quiets itself in the midst of chaos. When I am carried away by questions too great and marvelous for me or challenges that seem too much to bear, I remember this: that my hope is in God, whose comforting presence is all the nourishment I need.