The Pit and the Wings

by the Rev. Paul McLain


In our Praying the Psalms class on Sunday mornings, we have discussed two of the images often depicted in the Psalms – the pit and the wings. The pit is the place in which people are put to render them null and void. It is the place where we are reduced to powerlessness. It is the place of danger and threat. By contrast, the wings of God are the place of protection, nurture, and tenderness – the image of being safely tucked under God’s wings.


We, as Calvary, have experienced both the pit and the wings over the last few days. First, we received the shocking and distressing news of the theft of many of our historic organ pipes. We were all heartbroken and felt we were in the pit. When we received word of the recovery of most of the pipes on Tuesday, we gave a collective sigh of relief, felt the joy of many answered prayers and offered thanksgivings as our hearts were lifted upward on the wings of God.


Monday, when we were all in the pit of devastation, Kristin Lensch, our organist, received countless phone calls, texts, and emails offering prayers and tangible support. One organist from Texas offered for their church to fund-raise to help pay for recreating the organ pipes. Another organist from a church that has the ‘sister’ to our organ built around the same time offered to host visits, take photos and measurements to assist in rebuilding or do anything else that would be helpful.


Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann writes of the Psalms: ‘They assert not that God will be or has promised to be a refuge, but that God is refuge right in the present circumstance. And therefore, the words serve to redefine radically the place of the pray-er. She is verbally transported from the pit to the wing, from the place of powerlessness to utter safety, from death to life.’


Even as Kristin was in the pit deeper than any of us, she felt the refuge of God’s wings through the loving expressions of support, the hugs, and the generous offers of help from God’s people here and throughout the nation. While still in the pit, she and we could feel the embrace of God’s wings, being tucked warmly under the arms of Jesus.


No matter where we may find ourselves, we can feel God’s embrace as we pray Psalm 57: ‘Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful, for I have taken refuge in you; in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until this time of trouble has gone by. For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.’ The Psalms remind us that even in the depths of the pit, God is there with us, mending and lifting up our broken hearts as we together take flight and soar!

10 thoughts on “The Pit and the Wings”

      1. Thank you Paul- your writing speaks to me of the hope and love of our God who never leaves us. Peace.

  1. I have enjoyed this class so much. The psalms have taken on a whole new relevance for me now. Thanks to you and Paige.

    1. Nancy, you’re welcome. Glad the class has been meaningful to you. It’s been wonderful to collaborate with Paige these last couple of months. Hope to see you there tomorrow!
      Love and Blessings,

  2. Good morning! Your blog brings to mind the photo of the mother hen with all her chicks gathered tightly under her widely and openly spread out wings protecting them.

    1. Good morning, Malinda! Glad this reflection brought to mind that beautiful image. Jesus refers to himself as a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings. It’s comforting to see God and Jesus as mother, nurturing and protecting us, preparing us to take flight.
      Love and Blessings,

  3. Paul, you brought the embrace of “God’s wings” to me on Friday at Peter’s memorial service. I am grateful for your kind and loving care.

    1. Judy, it was good to be with you and meet Peter’s family on Friday. Blaise, you, and your family continue to be in our prayers and in our hearts.
      Love and Blessings,

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