One of the marvels of Holy Scripture--particularly, I have found, as I encounter it in the Daily Office--is the ability of an entirely familiar passage to suddenly leap off the page in an astonishing way.
Psalm 80 is appointed for this morning. It is a plea to Yahweh on behalf of Israel, and the Psalmist compares the nation to a vine--planted and tended by God himself, a beautiful thing. Yet, the vine has fallen on hard times:
Why have you broken down its wall, *
so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes?
The wild boar of the forest has ravaged it, *
and the beasts of the field have grazed upon it.
In what I hope is a faithful allegorical interpretation in the patristic tradition, my heart substituted Anglicanism for Israel, and the whole thing instantly became crushingly poignant in these days when the very survival of the Communion seems to depend on what a group of bishops in gathered in New Orleans decides to do. My own soul is so formed by the Anglican tradition that the sight of it on the verge of crumbling before my eyes is, frankly, terrifying. The announcement from the Bishop of the Rio Grande yesterday is just the most recent icon of that terror.
So my petition today is this:
Turn now, O God of hosts, look down from heaven;
behold and tend this vine; *
preserve what your right hand has planted.