The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23, KJV
When I started this series on the Book of Psalms, I wanted to have a discussion about some of the troubling texts in the Bible, especially the Old Testament. According to a young family friend, “the Old Testament is missing in action.” I wanted to start with the Book of Psalms because everyone had some experience with poetry through literature, music lyrics and especially today’s psalm, Psalm 23. I wanted to convey how the ancient Israelites dealt with the complexity of life through the psalms. I relied on Walter Brueggemann’s, Spirituality of the Psalms.
My original intent was to do an eight part series on Psalms, but life happened. On the morning of June 23, 2018, I received a phone call from one of my sisters. This is the phone call no child wants to receive. Our mother was on the other side of eternity. It wasn’t until I got to the end or the seventh installment of the series, that God told me to extend the series. God told me in order for me to continue my healing process; I need to talk and write about how the Book of Psalms helped me through my mother’s paralysis and death. For the final entry in the series, I wanted to end with the psalm everyone is familiar with, Psalm 23. I wanted to end with Psalm 23, because it is not one of the psalms that fit neatly into the orientation, disorientation, or new orientation category. I also wanted to end with Psalm 23, because I always have associated this psalm with my mother’s faith in God’s love and care for her.
The ancient Israelites were shepherds. Sheep by nature are animals that need total care. Sheep have no natural defenses so they are totally dependent upon the shepherd to protect them from its enemies or natural predators. Therefore, it would be natural for the Israelites to associate God’s protection with being a shepherd.
The psalmist tells us in verses 1-3, that God like the shepherd takes care of our wants, leads us beside still calming waters, restores our soul and leads us into the path of righteousness. Before my mother entered the other side of eternity, she was in hospice care. I had received call about a month before June 23rd, telling me she had had another stroke. When we arrived to the hospital, the doctor told us that this stroke had affected her brain stem. Her attending physician told us she would not get better. She would either die or always be in this vegetative state. I still wanted him to perform more diagnostic tests to confirm his diagnosis. He did not think this was necessary. I was unyielding on this point. This was my mom. The Lord was leading me beside the still waters calming me down. What made it so eerie is that I saw my mother trying to struggle to consciousness and looking directly at me telling me to let her go. My mom was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. My mom was not afraid of death at that moment, because her Lord was with her. God’s rod and staff was comforting her. God was preparing a table for her and anointing her head with oil, her cup was running over, goodness and mercy were with her. She knew she was about to dwell with her Lord forever. My mom left us three weeks later. I can see this now as God’s rod and staff comfort me; as God restores my soul; and as God continues to lead my heart to still waters. God’s other promise, I will see my mother again someday.
 This is a quote from the June 17, 2018, blog.
 Walter Brueggemann, Spirituality of the Psalms (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002).
 This is my language. She actually used the phrase “Our mother had died.” Sometimes, it is hard for me to say the word. While I write this blog, this is one of those times. I can say the phrase on the other side of eternity truthfully and honestly, because of John 3:16.
 I am crying as I write and remember this day.