When at wit’s end

These are strange times that often take us to our wit’s end. No need to enumerate.

A rendering of Psalm 107 from The Book of Psalms in Metre and the Scottish Hymnal , published in 1879 by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, perhaps spoke to the book’s original owner, John Campbell of Blair Mill, Scotland, when he bought the copy now in my possession, inscribed with his name and the date, January 20, 1880. January is nasty in Scotland. Today it’s nasty all across America.

A portion of Psalm 107 is rendered this way:

Who go to sea in ships, and in
great waters trading be,
Within the deep these men God’s works
and his great wonders see.
For he commands, and forth in haste
the stormy tempest flies,
Which makes the sea with rolling waves
aloft to swell and rise.
They mount to heav’n, then to the depths
they do go down again;
Their soul doth faint and melt away
with trouble and with pain.
They reel and stagger like one drunk,
at their wit’s end they be:
Then they to God in trouble cry,
who from them stairs doth free.
The storm is chang’d into a calm
at his command and will;
So that the waves, which rag’d before,
are quiet now and still.

– Psalm 107:23-29

If we cannot one can identify with nothing else, we each know the soul that faints and melts away with trouble and pain. We reel and stagger like one drunk, at their wits end.

Steve Shoemaker’s poem “A Psalm for Each Kind of Day” – posted previously on Views from the Edge – recognizes the breadth and depth of the psalms. Some days the best one can do is recognize the feeling. Only those who feel will find their way to quiet stillness.

Thanks to a comment from Dennis Aubrey of Via Lucis for prompting the reflection this morning.