Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits— who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. ~ Psalm 103:1-8
This is the last picture I ever had of my Grandma, taken not long before she died and the only time she met her great-granddaughter. By the time this picture was taken, dementia had taken hold of her and she wasn't entirely sure who I was or who this cute little cherub was.
But she was game to have her picture taken. Trusting fully that we were people she loved, even if she couldn't remember it. And that's who she was. Trusting. A woman of abiding faith.
For much of my childhood, I have to admit she was my favorite person. As a child of divorce and for a time with a single mother who had to work a lot to care for me, my grandma was the one who was my constant. She was also my first entry into what a life of faith looked like.
It was a faith that poured out of her, and one of the ways she expressed it most fully was in reciting this Psalm as part of a daily ritual. She would stand at her sink, happily washing dishes as she listened in to my grandfather giving piano lessons in the other room. And as she stood, these words would pour from her lips: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits." She would almost sing them in joyful praise to her Lord.
At her funeral, I read this Psalm for her. Even in her passing, there was the knowledge of her joy in the Lord: her gratitude for a life lived in love and in faith.
It was she who taught me how to bless the Lord...that praise can come in the more ordinary ways.
Who was that person for you?
Bless you O, Lord, from my very soul, and all that is within me. Bless your holy name. Bless you, O Lord, from my very soul, and help me never to forget all your benefits. And thank you so much for those who taught me how to bless your name. Amen.