Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Autumn lettuce and a psalm for protection

This wonderful corner of the October garden is filled with Misticanza: Italian salad greens growing nicely. The translation on the back of the seed pack says Misticanza can be grown Quattro Stagioni - in all four seasons. Probably yes, in Italy, but here in Pennsylvania, while seeds can be sown in late summer, by mid October, a freezing night can kill the fragile greens. 

So when the sun goes down in the afternoon, I pull this blanket of garden fabric over the plants, hoping it's enough to ward off the worst of the killing-cold. Come the morning, when the sun breeches the hills and things begin to warm, the blanket is pulled back: danger passed.

Psalm 91 is a perfect end-of-day prayer asking for a blanket of protection. Filled with loads of image-words that we can each name for ourselves and our dangerous world, I expect praying it mindfully for others can be a great kindness.

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
  who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
Say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress,
  my God, in whom I trust."
For he will rescue you from the snare of the fowler,
  from the destroying pestilence.
With his pinions he will cover you,
  and under his wings you shall take refuge;
  his faithfulness is a buckler and a shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night
  nor the arrow that flies by day;
Not the pestilence that roams in darkness
  nor the devastating plague at noon.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
  ten thousand at your right side,
  near you is shall not come.
Rather with your eyes shall you behold
  and see the requital of the wicked,
Because you have the Lord for your refuge;
  you have made the Most High your stronghold.
No evil shall befall you,
  nor shall affliction come near your tent,
For to his angels he has given command about you,
  that they guard you in all your ways.
Upon their hands they shall bear you up,
  lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the asp and the viper;
  you shall trample down the lion and the dragon.
Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;
  I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
  I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and glorify him
  with length of days I will gratify him
  and will show him my salvation.


  1. Thank you Father Stephen. This is a perfect reminder of how the psalms can both comfort and give a feeling of protection. Just as your garden blanket protects your fragile lettuce.

  2. This psalm is beautifully featured in the film: A Trip to Bountiful. Well worth seeing.

  3. A lovely surprise this Monday morning. The imagery of the psalm is easily applied to my life. I see the blanket pulled back and ready to cover and protect your garden if needed. Always at the ready to keep it from harm.

  4. Isn't it great: fragile salad greens with protection at the ready; us with this lovely psalm.

  5. I will wrap myself in this psalm and use it for my blanket of protection. Thank you Father.

  6. So famous, I broke into song. Can't even just read it as we sang it so often for so long. When I'm looking for God yet I know He's near , the psalm says it all! Alway, always, always need a reminder. Thank you Fr. Stephen!