Reflections on Psalm 145 by Rev. Ruth Santana-Grace

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”
(from Psalm 145)

This is one of my favorite psalms – it speaks to me at different times throughout the year and my life. As I’ve shared before, I have found that throughout many of life’s moments we can find the expression of our hearts and deepest thoughts on the pages written by the psalmist. Lamenting, adoring, invoking, interceding – we are certain to find the breadth of our human experience in this Old Testament book.

I write this from a monastery overlooking the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is a lovely place founded by the Episcopal Church – a silent retreat center offering the combination of space, worship, spiritual direction, great food (the brothers can cook) – and for me, proximity to Harvard where I can complement my time of study with colleagues and some quality moments with my son. I discovered this sacred place about 5 years ago – not knowing at the time that the silence and location would feed a part of my soul and encourage my weary heart. The setting of this retreat center naturally encourages me to meditate on the wondrous works of God.

The timing of this brief retreat coincides with two “reflection-causing” moments in my current journey. The first is the opportunity to look back on the past two years with representatives of our presbytery’s Personnel Committee. It is so important for each of us to intentionally pause to reflect on where we are. I am humbled by our journey together as a presbytery. We have done much together in what really is a short time. This being said, even as I am grateful, I am deeply aware of all that is still to be done – from supporting our congregations in new ways; equipping leaders in the complexities of our call today, creating spaces for relationships to grow among colleagues, and much more; I am encouraged by our creative spirit and our willingness to forge partnerships with Princeton and other entities. I am also conscious of the need to balance intentionally the generative spaces and possibilities – even as we address the more complicated realities.

The second and probably more existentially relevant today is that our son, who began his journey to college as a man-child, will be graduating from Harvard as a young man in just four weeks. As we share meals together this week, I realize I am not the only one in this reflective space. He, too, is considering where he has been and where he is going. I can see it in his facial expressions and hear it in his conversations as he emotionally prepares to leave this place that has become so familiar, and frankly, has served him well. He has much to celebrate – but it is clear that, like me, he is aware of the chapter ending before him – even as a new one begins.
An unexpected twist (although I’m not sure it should be unexpected) is that as commencement draws nearer, I miss my dad. I miss him in a way I have not in more than a decade. His life was a story of great faith and courage. He believed education would be the vehicle by which we could “make something of ourselves.” He would have loved to have sat in the commencement chaos of Cambridge, proudly watching his grandson – the grandson of a man who cut sugar cane and worked in the steel mills – graduate from college, let alone Harvard. I trust that his spirit will break through the skies on May 26th – but I simply miss his presence.

I don’t consider this a particular unique journey in human life, but it is my journey at this moment. It is my unique place as a mom who is preparing to arrive at yet another milestone in parenting – the launch of her son into adulthood. As I look through the window at the Charles River – I become mindful that life is like the river that moves before me. It seems still – but if I look more carefully, I can see the moving waters. They move whether we are ready or not. I love watching the movement of the Charles River. It allows me to focus on “the glorious splendor of God’s majesty” and the “wondrous works” that compel me to meditate.

The sky is beautifully blue this morning. I appreciate the university crew teams as they paddle together in rhythm. The rhythmic strides of the runners and walkers along the riverbank are inviting me to join their movement. It’s time to walk along side those moving waters. See you in Philadelphia.