Poet, prophet, and priest Daniel Berrigan has always loved the psalms and used them for inspiration and comfort. In the introduction to this extraordinary work, he writes:
"Long before I went to jail, my family and friends had accepted the idea that the scripture, more specifically the psalms, were our landmark, a source of sanity in an insane time. The psalms spoke up for soul, for survival; they pled for all, they bonded us when the world would break us like dry bones. They made sense, where the 'facts' scientific, political, religious made only nonsense. For me, the psalms gave coloration and texture to life itself; gave weight to silence, the space between words that, like the white Cezanne painting, intensify form and color, their other side, a sweet cheat, almost a third dimension."
In each chapter, Berrigan presents a poetic reading of something that struck him in a psalm followed by an interpretive essay. These pieces are supplemented by woodcuts by Robert F. McGovern. The end result is a fruitful reading of the Divine and the world in which we live. There are salutary pieces on faith, mercy, silence, and help in times of trouble.
In "Tell Me the Way" on Psalm 32, Berrigan writes about grace:
"Those moments of grace! like an arrow of sunlight
along a mausoleum floor
Something is happening, the door must be slightly ajar
I have a name for you; you are
the crack of light
under the door
of the city morgue."
And in an interpretive essay on Psalm 104, Berrigan writes of shadow:
"I believe that God dies a little with every murder, every twist of cruelty, every lie, every concession offered to death. He dies in us, he dies in nature, he dies in innocent blood, he dies in a dying universe. His voice is stifled, his holy will mocked, his tenderness set to naught. Vast armaments declare him impotent, vast military budgets prove him insolvent. Pretentious, absurd, sinister beyond belief, modern dictators declare God's rule ended."