Psalm 51 & The Old Woman from Luke 8
Over at Poetry for Life on Substack, we’re writing poems from Psalms. It’s something we first talked about in December, with “Here in the Psalm” by Sally Fisher. Callie Feyen took me up on it and wrote a great poem on Psalm 2.
The Psalm we read at Mass today is Psalm 51. When I sat down to write my own, I went to another part of the Bible. I wondered what the woman from Luke 8, who had been bleeding for twelve years, might say if she prayed this Psalm.
The bleeding started whem the sin took hold. Not that one of the doctors
I’ve given my last cent to could see it — it’s not the kind of sin
seen with the naked eye, only the red eking out of me, year after year,
twelve years, but who’s counting? I went to the priests too.
They were more flummoxed than the doctors. Said I seemed to be taking care
of the spiritual side of things.
So why then?
Why won’t it stop? I’m not blaming anyone. Just want some relief.
I hear tell there’s a rabbi making the rounds. (Not a rabbi, exactly,
but what else do you call the man?) Folks have been healed.
They say he might can raise the dead. I don’t need anything that dramatic,
don’t want to call attention to myself, just some old woman
with a sin too young for her.
I reckon I can make my way through those crowds without too much
trouble. They say his mother is always with him. Maybe she
could take me to him. I’d do whatever he told me.
Honestly, if I could grab ahold of the hem of whatever it is
he’s wearing, well, that might just do the trick.
I loved this book. As soon as I finished, I began reading it again.”
—David Lee Garrison, author of Playing Bach in the D. C. Metro