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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Mary C. Earle

Monday, May 11

Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
—Psalm 23:6

When I was attending the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin in the early 1980s, there were two cats on campus whose names were Goodness and Mercy. As you might guess, they had gotten those names because they tended to follow students around.

These were the kind of cats who were always on the lookout for a lap or a treat. They LIKED people. They would come into classrooms and sit on the professor’s desk, enhancing the lectures with their twitching whiskers or their tail-flicking.

While Goodness and Mercy provided a feline whimsical quality to my seminary education, they also led me to reflect on this line from Psalm 23. If you know a psalm by heart, more than likely it is this one. It tends to be recited at funerals, and often the majority of the gathered congregation will know the text. As with everything that is familiar, Psalm 23 can be recited without much reflection. Rote recitation is usually mindless and inattentive.

The cats, Goodness and Mercy, with their persistence and their companionship, led me to wonder—is God this persistent? What if God’s goodness and mercy really do follow us like this—just a footfall behind, accompanying us into all of the different rooms of our lives?

Psalm 23 suggests that the divine goodness and mercy are active, searching, on our heels. No matter where we go, no matter how fast or slow our journey, goodness and mercy do follow us, encircle us, undergird and uphold us.

In the course of this day may I perceive Your goodness and mercy following me every step of the way. Amen.

The Signposts for May originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.