Sonnet for Psalm 103

How quickly, Lord, we forget your blessings, 
Showered upon us daily, so endless.
These blessings flourish and are forgotten
Like flowers, grass, and fields, in the autumn. 
And still, these gifts, like manna, continue - 
Forgiveness, healing, mercy's renewal. 
Why? You know our frailty; you remember 
We are soon ashes, our lives like embers,  
Or like flowers in the field - when the wind
Passes over, we, too, are forgotten. 
But the field is yours, Lord; the wind is, too - 
It whispers our name, and claims us for you.
So bless the Lord, all that is within me; 
My life, my all, praise you eternally. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, begins Psalms 103, and do not forget all his benefits. But we do forget, don’t we? We forget these blessings, given to us daily. One of the paradoxical elements of this psalm that I try to capture in my sonnet is that our frail nature can actually help us to remember these blessings. In fact, these blessings are given to us, according to the psalmist, in part because God “remembers that we are dust” and so has compassion for us. And so, our God forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies, and renews us. What a blessing! Here, then, is a passage from Psalm 103, followed by the other scripture passages I had in mind when I wrote the sonnet, along with the sonnet again, followed by my closing prayer:

Psalm 103:1-5, 13-18

Bless the Lord, O my soul, 
  and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, 
  and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity, 
  who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit, 
  who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live 
  so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

As a father has compassion for his children, 
  so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made; 
  he remembers that we are dust.
As for mortals, their days are like grass; 
  they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, 
  and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting 
  on those who fear him, 
and his righteousness to children’s children,
  to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

Scripture Readings

God rained down on them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven. Mortals ate of the bread of angels; he sent them food in abundance. – Psalm 78:24-25

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24

Sonnet for Psalm 103

How quickly, Lord, we forget your blessings, 
Showered upon us daily, so endless.
These blessings flourish and are forgotten
Like flowers, grass, and fields, in the autumn. 
And still, these gifts, like manna, continue - 
Forgiveness, healing, mercy's renewal. 
Why? You know our frailty; you remember 
We are soon ashes, our lives like embers,  
Or like flowers in the field - when the wind
Passes over, we, too, are forgotten. 
But the field is yours, Lord; the wind is, too - 
It whispers our name, and claims us for you.
So bless the Lord, all that is within me; 
My life, my all, praise you eternally. 

Closing Prayer

O Lord, I bless you – my soul and all that is within me blesses your holy name. For you forgive, heal, redeem, crown, satisfy, and renew. How can I not bless you for this? But I confess, too, that I forget your many blessings, and forget to give thanks to you for them. I hold onto the promise of your faithfulness, Lord, great as it is. You promise that your love, grace, and mercy never come to an end. And so, let my praise of you never come to an end. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen

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