Miracle Factories: Reflections on Psalm 77, the sixth Psalm of the Tikkun HaClali
Hospitals can be miracle factories.
They can be places where doctors and nurses access the Energy of Creation and help some beloved creations live somewhat longer.
We enter the hospital knowing that people before us have been cured, that miracles have been wrought for others and we hope there will be miracles for us as well. We enter with hope and of course the fear that the miracles we seek will elude us.
We’ve had moments of grace before - when we arrived in this world ourselves, perhaps when our children arrived, perhaps when we fell in love, perhaps when we saw the night sky in its fullness. Could we yet experience grace again in these sterile halls?
In Psalm 77, the sixth of the ten Psalms that make up Rebbe Nachman’s Tikkun HaClali, the Psalmist writes of that dual consciousness, of fear and anxiety in this current moment coupled with the awareness that amazing things - miracles, perhaps? - have happened in other times and other places.
Now, though, in his moment of fear, the Psalmist writes “Will You cast me off forever? Will I never gain your favor again? Is your kindness depleted? Your promise dried up for all time?” Will the miracle factory work for me, he wonders? (Psalm 77:8-10, Norman Fisher translaton)
Perhaps without even realizing it, the Psalmist had made assumptions about how his life would unfold. Something has happened, however, and he realizes that while things might yet work out as he hoped, he can no longer make any assumptions. He now interrogates the future he once took for granted.
But while the Psalmist is far less sanguine about the future than he once was, he knows his hope comes from good lineage. The Holy One of Blessing is gracious and compassionate and has enabled those miracle factories to work before. Perhaps, he hopes, for reasons unfathomable, they will work again.
“I remember from old Your wonders,” (77:12) he writes. I remember when “You saved your people,” (77:16), when “the earth trembled and shook at Your voice” (77:19) and when “You lead your people like a flock.” (77:21) The Psalmist knows that at least sometimes, the Holy One saves through wonders, and the patient knows that at least sometimes, the Holy One saves through medicine.
Hope is audacious, but it is not unreasonable. Nobody who is saved could have assumed they would have been and yet some - many, even - who are in fear, are saved. The psalmist knows well his fear of the present but looks to the past to ground his hope for the future.