"Truth, Goodness & Beauty" reminded me of Psalm 85 that in turn reminded me of the fullness of earth's bounty we ideally experience during summer.
Psalm 85:1a, 10-12Probably written down after the Babylonian exile with righteous concern for restoring land, crops, and the fertility of planet earth to its utmost so humans and everything else would be revived to thrive in interdependence, Psalm 85 is packed with dense theological words—land, salvation, forgiveness, steadfast love, faithfulness, mercy, peace, righteousness, good, truth, earth... Although some exiles chose to stay in Babylon to make lives for themselves, the place and space others returned to was the literal Good Land of Promise whose valleys and streams would generate figs, grains, grapes, pomegranates...
1God, you smiled on your good earth!
10Love and Truth meet in the street,
Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!
11Truth sprouts green from the ground,
Right Living pours down from the skies!
12Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty
our land responds with Bounty and Blessing. MSG
Deuteronomy 8God smiling on God's good earth becomes a reality when we fulfill the commandment to steward the land, to live in covenant with all creation—not solely with human creatures. And yes, also when we seriously practice what I've called "neighborology" in the covenantal traditions of Deuteronomy and of Jeremiah. In Psalm 85, "peace" is the Hebrew shalom, a way of living together as neighbors that's far more than absence of conflict; shalom includes the broad reality of distributive justice, well-being and "enough" sufficiency for all, a common-wealth reconciled to one another and to God on every level. Shalom is "Right Living and Whole Living" in Pastor Eugene's interpretation of the psalm. Israel's Lord God Yahweh was and still is a fertility god who owns the land and loans it out for human caretaking and for the benefit of all creation. Two thousand years ago, the day of resurrection marked the end of the seemingly eternal recycling of human history (sin, violence, debt, war, greed), though in the power of the HS we still need to pray and work and hope toward the absolute completion of God's redemption.
6Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 7For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, 8a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. 10You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you. NRSV
Psalm 85:11 tells us "truth sprouts green from the ground." Every agricultural season's freshly sprouting plants of every kind – especially the beginnings and later the growth of anyone's tomato plants – become harbingers of hope for more to come, for the lively possibility of our continuing to get it right, continuing to care well for the ground and its gifts, keeping on keeping on with concern for our immediate neighbors on either side of us at home or at work, in gracious kindness and hospitality for neighbors we haven't yet met but whose lives already touch ours through other lives they touch that touch ours. You've been in conversations at work, church, club, school, where tomato plants are the main topic?
Garden Fresh Tomatoes have become a triumphant icon of a healthy summer garden, of people living into and loving all of the glory of summer's long warm days, summer's enhanced opportunities for leisure and recreation. God smiles on the good earth as truth sprouts green from the ground—right living pours down from the skies! The sacraments form models for the lives we pursue after we leave those circled around liturgy of Word and Sacrament to engage those and others the circle of the world embraces. In a parallel manner, scripture – not only the commandments – as words from heaven and Word of God for us, outline how we can work alongside God to make this southern California county – and where you make your home today – a place where love and truth meet in the street, where righteousness and integrity spontaneously hug each other, where this-seasonal veggies, fruits, berries, and flowers sprout green and all other colors imaginable. A location where God again smiles on our good earth. Essentially making our surroundings into year-round endless summer!
Let's love the earth. Care for the land. Treasure the waterways. Keep the air clean. Live locally. Remember your neighbor. Keep covenant with all creation. Let's help fill planet earth with endless truth, goodness, and beauty. Make your neighborhood into a forever summer. Thank you!
Credits: Psalter verses from Pastor Eugene Peterson's The Message; stock photo of fresh summer tomatoes by Pippalou on morguefile; edited by me as suntreeriver design. Headline font on tomato graphic is Blog Script; psalm expressed in the font garden fresh tomatoes.