February 21, June 22, October 22
Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said
Let this verse be said:
“Incline unto my aid, O God;
O Lord, make haste to help me,”
and the “Glory be to the Father”
then the hymn proper to each Hour.
Then at Prime on Sunday
four sections of Psalm 118 are to be said;
and at each of the remaining Hours,
that is Terce, Sext and None,
three sections of the same Psalm 118.
At Prime on Monday let three Psalms be said,
namely Psalms 1, 2 and 6.
And so each day at Prime until Sunday
let three Psalms be said in numerical order, to Psalm 19,
but with Psalms 9 and 17 each divided into two parts.
Thus it comes about that the Night Office on Sunday
always begins with Psalm 20.
Reading this chapter this morning, I remembered reading this and reflecting on it thirteen years ago. I was home and wildfires raged, eventually coming to withing a mile and a half of my home. I was packed and ready to evacuate with my cats over the bridge to Coronado and the home of my best friend’s mother-in-law, along with all the members of that family who might also have to evacuate. As it happened, I did not have to evacuate. But curiosity about what I had written that day about this chapter moved me to find what I wrote on 10/22/03. Here it is.
As I write this, uncontrolled wildfires are burning in the County and city of San Diego. In the background the TV news dominates. 100% of the firefighters are at work fighting 7 fires. 100% of all the police cars in the City are in use to evacuate elderly from a retirement home. A major hospital has been evacuated. Winds are at 60 mph pushing the fires west. The firefighters are worried that the 7 fires will all join up and burn through to the coast, taking out all of the City of San Diego and a good-sized portion of the County from Escondido to the Mexican border and all points west, right up to the Pacific Ocean. And here I am, thoroughly distracted, trying to gather my thoughts about this section of the RB.
On the face of it, these details seem to be irrelevant given the conditions in the City. But they are not. As the song says “If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now”. I have sections of Psalms, the Eucharistic service of the Episcopal Church, hymns running through my head this morning. This is what I can take with me from today’s reading: that which I have happened to have memorized is here for me as I pray to the Lord about the catastrophe devastating the countryside where I live.