I always breathe a sigh of delight when Psalm 85 is in the lectionary. Verse 10 reads
Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
The psalm speaks to a resolution of things that should oppose each other: mercy and truth; righteousness and peace.
These lines are featured in a key moment of a wonderful novella and movie, Babette’s Feast. I won’t spoil the plot for you, but the core message is that the finite world that we can absorb is in an infinite sea of mercy and peace. Every so often, we have a glimpse, or a taste, or a whiff of the vastness of God’s grace when we encounter deep beauty, generosity, and connection. Suddenly we have a sense of the grandeur of spirit and depth of meaning that can be found in a humble kitchen, or a quotidian conversation between friends, or a simple gesture from a stranger. We may hold our breath in awe for a brief moment—and then we usually go back to seeing the world as ordinary again. This is the basis for the Mass—the feast—simple bread, simple wine, but through these elements connecting with the foundation of all things and with each other.
A character in the story says this,
“We have all of us been told that grace is to be found in the universe. But in our human foolishness and shortsightedness we imagine divine grace to be finite… [The moment comes when our eyes are opened, and we see and realize that grace is infinite. Grace, my friends, demands nothing from us but that we shall await it with confidence and acknowledge it in gratitude.” (Isak Dinesen, “Babette’s Feast” in Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard.”)
The poet William Blake says it like this:
“To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower.
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.” (William Blake, Auguries of Innocence).
This week may you have a taste of the infinite in the midst of the every day things, patterns, chores, and hassles.