To lift one's eyes

We have bumble bees nesting in our garden. They are in a safe place near the shed, in the ground and just behind the high retaining wall. I am trying to get a good enough view of one to identify them, whilst at the moment just narrowing down the options - and learning a great deal from the internet about bumble bees and their habits. Picking the gooseberries and raspberries this year may require a veil, but we shall cross that bridge when we come to it. The aforesaid fruit should be well pollinated, not to mention the damsons and apples, beans and all the soft fruit. It is a mouth watering prospect.

The internet is serving us all well during the days of this crisis. Most people use it now, and on-line shopping is booming as people become less and less able or ready to leave the house, but human resourcefulness generally is good to witness, as so many people work away in their own field to minimise the personal suffering of those who have fallen ill, lost loved ones, or feel they cannot cope for whatever reason.

It is not surprising that we turn to the psalms as part of our daily reflection. Many are praying Psalm 91 as part of their devotions, others searching more widely for understanding and comfort and strength, in the words of those who wrote many centuries ago of living under God’s merciful care in a world far from perfect.

One of the psalms appointed for today is a familiar one, Psalm 121, “I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where is my help to come?” It is very suitable for those living in the sight of hills, as we do in Swanage and Studland; with Ballard Down, and the whole ridge of the downs to Corfe Castle and beyond above us, and the height of Durlston to the south, standing firm, as we glance up from Peveril Point.

The psalmist seeks strength in looking to the hills, but, in fact, his mind’s-eye-looking would probably have been to Mount Zion, to the height where the focus of God lay for the Hebrew people. But, the writer then answers his own question with the affirmation that his help lies in the Lord, as we, echoing his thoughts as he looked to the hills, also reach for that heavenly Jerusalem.  Christ, of course, dwells with us here today, and with all our loved ones eternally. I am think of the words of Jesus as we approach Holy Week, that he prayed for his disciples on the night of the Last Supper: “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world” (John 17: 16). Yet he spoke this, saying that he was sending them into the world, but he prayed for them, in all that they had to face. Maybe the psalmist felt a bit that way too.

As I am finishing this, some clever piece of software has just popped up the information that, “your screen time was up 24% last week.” How do ‘they’ know these things? Maybe I should stick a bit closer to the hills and less to the screen, or at least take my binoculars and try and get a better sight of our treasured bumble bees!

John Mann