Cast the Line

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you,
    when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I;
for you are my refuge,
    a strong tower against the enemy.

vv. 1-3, from Psalm 61

Psalm 61 is a call uttered from a place of loneliness, a cry sent from the end of the earth, the

‘Just a cloud?’ photo by Katherine Brown

Psalm 61 is a call uttered from a place of loneliness, a cry sent from the end of the earth, the space where the psalmist sits solitary. This is her faint heart’s final plea. She centers herself for one last desperate cast, doubles the force of the imperative by its repetition – Hear me, Listen to me – throws the line with all the strength she can muster in this place of bitter pain.

Psalm 61 is a call uttered from a place of loneliness, a cry sent from the end of the earth, the space where the psalmist sits solitary. This is her faint heart’s final plea. She centers herself for one last desperate cast, doubles the force of the imperative by its repetition – Hear me, Listen to me – throws the line with all the strength she can muster in this place of bitter pain.

And the line catches. This line – thrown from the ends of the earth with whatever force a faint heart can rally – catches hold, grows taut, pulls the psalmist past the force of her own throwing, and up to the rock that is higher. The plea for ascent becomes the means of ascent. The psalmist’s prayer draws her out of her own overwhelmed heart in its feeling of small and solitary insufficiency to the recollection that there is a rock above, a strong tower, a pair of sheltering wings. This high refuge rock reorients the psalmist’s vision. She sees that her plight is not solitary, not hers alone, nor the sum of all that is. 

She is drawn beyond the earlier, enmeshing fear to recall past mercies, reclaim promised loyalty, re-member herself among all those who fear God’s name. Her practice of prayer pulls her from the particularity of her own pleading and reweaves her into the web of the faithful. Her cry reconnects her to the whole of the community, even to the king.

The needs and joys of all the congregation are offered up by this yet-single but no longer solitary “I”, as she commits to keep casting her line in the glad joy of knowing that that God’s steadfast love and faithfulness thrum through its taut-held length, vibrating with praise her heart now sings.

Cast the line. Feel it catch. Hold tight. The pull will come.

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