O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints
for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
– Psalm 63:1 (NRSV)
TALITHA ARNOLD | I am writing this Lenten devotional in the middle of December in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Technically northern New Mexico is a “high desert,” but at 7,000 feet altitude, we’d normally have several inches of snow by now. But we’re not living in normal times, and Santa Fe hasn’t had snow or rain since September. Yesterday’s high was 59, almost 20 degrees warmer than an average December.
The high temperatures and lack of moisture may be the new normal. As an environmentalist friend says, “We’d better get used to the desert—there’s going to be a lot more of it.”
We’d also be wise to learn from the desert. Fortunately, given its geography, our biblical faith is also a desert faith, as Psalm 63 demonstrates. The composer draws a parallel between their spiritual desert and the surrounding landscape: “My soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land with no water.” The psalmist remembers what they’ve learned from the desert: the steadfastness of God’s love; God’s presence throughout both day and night; the power of praise and thanksgiving, for the desert’s small but surprising gifts.
The psalmist reflects on the ways God has been their help, how God’s wings have provided protection and shade. Most of all, they remember what and who to cling to in the dry and weary times.