(What follows is a loose riff on Psalm 91:3-6. It’s written from the viewpoint of an avid gardener beset by both varmints and viruses. You’ll have to wait until the middle of July, 2022, though, for this psalm to come around in the lectionary!)
For much of this summer, I have spent considerable daytime thought and effort dealing with pests who also claim the fruits of my gardening. The vermin include cute little goldfinches, robins, rabbits and squirrels. They know a good thing when they see it—our backyard attracts the eyes and noses of both people and pests. My dissuasion contraptions (e.g., fences, netting) and methods (e.g., spraying repellant and yelling) are short-lived diversions from the pests’ main task: Eating at or ruining flowers, berries, veggies and my peace of mind.
To complement these worry-filled days, at night I concentrate on COVID-19 news. Here I am regularly reminded that death stalks in the air that I share with other humans—including those who disregard death’s possibilities. Stressing about the spreading effects of both disease and deniers, I sometimes have trouble sleeping.
Filling my days and nights in these ways, I have gradually been losing patience, hope and sleep. I regularly ask: How can God deliver me from these ongoing travails—one of them admittedly a suburban luxury and the other a real-and-present danger to all of society.
In the one case—pestilence—the answer is simple: Think of these animals and their unnamed insect friends as part of the beauty and wonder of the natural world. (Ever watch a robin or rabbit get around/under/over/through securely fastened netting?)
In the case of the invisible plague, a simple change-of-heart and habit: Do what safety requires—for myself and the rest of society. Accept the necessary lifestyle changes and have confidence in epidemiologists’ expertise.
In both of these attitude adjustments, I am also trusting God’s providence and humbly acknowledging my own frailties and vulnerabilities. Always good counterbalances to easy-arrogance and selfishness!
I wish you well in your encounters with pests and plagues!