Date: April 12
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/YearABC_RCL/HolyWk/HolyTue_RCL.html
Contributor: Connie Hendrick
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; *
you are my crag and my stronghold.
I remember my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Schroeder, struggling to explain the difference between a simile and a metaphor to a classroom of nine-year-old students at my parish school. She was a widow with young children and the only “lay teacher” among a sea of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, so she was accustomed to struggling. Mrs. Schroeder would be proud of me, because I noticed that in Psalm 71, verse 3, we have four metaphors providing images of strength and refuge. Castles and strongholds provide refuge, security, and survival. And the image of a strong rock also sounds comforting to me. But I’m a little disturbed by the metaphor of crag.
The word crag may have a Celtic origin from the Irish crec “rock” and carrac “cliff.” When I picture a crag, words like rugged, steep, broken, rough, projecting come to mind. The word crag produces images of power, but images unlike those evoked by the words castle, stronghold, and strong rock.
I grew up on Lake Michigan in an area where no steep rock faces or cliffs were found. My experience with crags is limited to hiking along the sea cliffs on the shoreline of Lake Superior, especially the majestic expanses of rock above the lake at Split Rock and Palisade Head.
So I’m contemplating the word crag today and remembering that a metaphor is a suggestion of likeness or an analogy. And somehow crag seems to me an apt Lenten metaphor. The word crag reminds me of climbing above Lake Superior, being mindful of the path, and adjusting to the broken and rough terrain. I need to be engaged in the world before me, be thoughtful, and adjust my path while I find a way forward.