Friday, March 16, 2007

Right Hand Shade

The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand. Psalm 121:5

This week thoughts about shade and the right hand sleuthed through my mind: shade, as in any shelter from harshness, and right hand, as the one most people on earth use, about 85 per cent.

Several years ago, I longed for shade when my pickup truck quit running. The breakdown happened on a rural, sparsely traveled road, and before I had a cell phone or a network.

I began a ten mile trek to the nearest town. Drawbacks were numerous: August afternoon, 100 plus temps, no hat, a pair of cutesy not-made-for-walking sandals, and only three ounces of Diet Sprite.

After two miles of walking, eight vehicles had zoomed past me. I counted. They avoided eye contact. So did I. Meanwhile, I wrestled with the idea of roasting or getting into a vehicle with a stranger.

Finally, with a parched voice I said aloud, “Lord, I trust you to send someone. So, the first person who offers me a ride, I’ll get into their car.”

Soon after, an eighteen wheeler pulled to the side of the road, and the kind driver gave me a lift to Montgomery. Good enough. I like big trucks. The shade of the cab was as cooling as the biggest floppy hat I’d ever worn. What relief!

The second element of the scripture is about the right hand. This week, I experimented with not using mine. For 15 minutes I put my work hand behind my back and proceeded through my early morning routine.

With my chin and ingenuity, I unscrewed a soy milk cap, and poured the liquid on bran cereal, without spilling. But spooning bran and liquid soy with my leftie caused a few dribbles down the chin.

After breakfast, I gathered clothes hangers to place fresh washed garments over them. My meager successes were accomplished only after frustrating, clumsy attempts that took ten times longer than normal.

In this psalm’s metaphor, God is described as shade over a right hand. When someone offers shade under an umbrella, an awning or a tree, respite arrives. Cruel conditions pause.

Also, the portrayal of someone near your work hand is the depiction of aid. A trusted friend or coworker may even be referred to as a “right hand man.”

How many times do we strike out to work without noticing that God is near our work stations, longing to shade pleasant and strenuous chores.

“The LORD watches over you.” Sun block is available. Help is near because the Tree-of-Life God is shading your right hand.

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