Ironman athlete and movie-multiplex owner Penn Ketchum rediscovered Psalm 23 one day on mile fifteen of an eighteen-mile run. "I'd sung all the verses of all the Bob Dylan songs I knew, when my mind jumped to Psalm 23 from my Episcopal upbringing. Except this time I considered each phrase—and tried out some different words here and there that belong to the world I live in. This old beloved Psalm moved into my day-to-day life where I've felt some inadequacy, insecurity, fear." In this book is the iconic Psalm, along with Ketchum's "other words," and his invitation for you to add your own. "This book is for the faithful but, more so, for anyone who is not connected—normal schmoes like me, going through life looking for clues." The drawings are Ketchum's—simple figures, sometimes conflicted, who are often missing parts. "Readers will see, through the words and artwork," Ketchum says, "that heavy ain't always heavy."
|Publisher:||Walnut Street Books|
|Product dimensions:||7.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Penn Ketchum owns four movie theaters—three state-of-the-art multiplexes and one old-school downtown twin theater. He grew up in Brooklyn. He is an aspiring endurance athlete, who competes in marathons, Ironman races, and other multi-sport events. He is the proud father of two daughters and is happily married to an inspiring woman.
Read an Excerpt
Running On Empty
The idea came to me as I was running south on Clay Road. My legs hurt, my feet hurt, I was hungry, and I had long ago emptied my water bottle. To calm my mind I was reciting songs in time with my footsteps. I repeated "Tangled Up in Blue" by Bob Dylan because it has a lot of verses. Completing it got me further down the road than a shorter lyric. I also recited prayers. I often did that — still do — to get me through some of the more challenging sections of a given run. It works.
Finding New Words
I always thought, as I repeated some of those prayers, that they use strange words. Words I never used. I understood what they meant. I knew their literal meaning, but their strangeness blocked me from really connecting with the power of the prayer. I tried to see if I could recite the whole Lord's Prayer, for example, without using any of its original vocabulary.
"Whether you are an accomplished theologian, a devout churchgoer, or a lost sailor like me, I invite you to spend some time with Psalm 23."
I tried additional prayers to see what new meanings they might reveal to me. I began to have fresh insights into prayers that I had been saying without thinking since I was a boy.
These are powerful prayers to begin with. But I liked the insights that were coming to me with this additional practice. So I've put this book together for just that reason — to invite reflection on a prayer.
Your "Other Words"?
Whether you are an accomplished theologian, a devout churchgoer, or a lost sailor like me, I invite you to spend some time with Psalm 23. I offer here, with the deepest humility, some of my own thoughts on this prayer. Join me with your own reflections and see what comes.
"I offer this book as an invitation to look at this particular prayer differently. To look at it in other words. Doing this might shine a light on a whole new way of connecting to the prayer, or even to prayer in general."CHAPTER 2
Why Psalm 23?
Many people, when reminded of Psalm 23's opening phrase, remark, "Oh, yeah, the funeral prayer, right?" Cracks me up. Yes, it's a passage often used at funerals. But that's a really wild and slightly misguided understatement. This is a prayer for the struggle, and as we know — what's more present than the daily struggle? We may often succeed, but for sure there is a daily fail. It can be a painful certain mistake. Or it can be as simple as not living up to being the person we hope to be.
Everyone's Dealing with Something
Sometimes our daily struggle is more serious — a fight with a loved one, a bad day at a job you hate, or whatever. I believe the old expression that everyone you meet is dealing with something. Something that's possibly painful. Even suffering.
Many people turn to their faith to help them find their daily strength or their balance. Prayer, for me, puts me in touch with my faith. Prayer sometimes helps me talk myself back into believing that it's gonna be okay. Prayer sometimes helps me get back to my faith when I'm drifting.
But I also know that many good, smart, wonderful people do not know faith. They do not enjoy the power of prayer. That's just how it is. Not good or bad or anything. Just how it played out for them. I offer this book as an invitation to look at this particular prayer differently. To look at it with other words. Doing that might shine a light on a whole new way of connecting to the prayer, or even to prayer in general.
"This is a prayer for the struggle, and as we know — what's more present than the daily struggle?"
And for the faithful, we fight on. We do our best, but it can be exhausting. As I've spent more time with this prayer, I've begun to see it as an outline of my faith, a comfort in the chaos.
Even When I'm Afraid
Don't get me wrong, I like when life gets weird, but I also get scared sometimes. When I feel that fear, I know to check my faith. And Psalm 23 is the perfect vehicle for doing that.
I hope you know peace. And if this book prompts some reflection and helps give voice to your trust in God, then great. And if it doesn't, that's okay too. Because like the Psalm says, "... Even though it can be tough ... Never alone."CHAPTER 3
About the Illustrations
Both of my parents have always encouraged me to draw. My father is an artist and an obvious influence on my work. I've also been influenced by Don Martin of Mad Magazine fame, Picasso of course, Banksy, and all the unknown artists who tagged the New York City buildings and subways of my youth.
"Look for a few common themes in my drawings in this book — the Trinity, the infinity circle, the common struggle of humanity."
Three Blocks, Three Circles ...
Look for a few common themes in my drawings in this book — the Trinity, the infinity circle, the common struggle of humanity. The Trinity is sometimes front and center, and other times more of a background element. For me, the Trinity represents the goodness, the gifts of God. It is sometimes clear and obvious, like when we have calm, quiet minds. Other times the Trinity is all but lost among themany other shapes and distractions that make up real life.
There are circles in our lives, and I see them in these pages. They are intended to reflect the infinity of God's love and, in some respect, the mystery of faith. Much like the Trinity, they are mixed in on many pages with the day-to-day stuff that consumes our attention every day.
But at the end of the day, we are each trying to pay bills, fix things that are broken, and reckon with our own earthly problems. Every day. That has to be part of the picture.
If you're gonna talk about lying down in green pastures beside still waters, you gotta own the fact that where we live is sometimes a long way away from still waters. We work toward those waters, and with God we can take steps in that direction, but we are just humans.
"You will see that many of my figures are disjointed or in some cases missing entire bodies. Just like us. We're a hot mess, and we struggle every day."
This prayer is powerful because we are so flawed. Not because we are anywhere close to perfect, but because we desire to move that way. We seek peace.
Psalm 23 understands that. It validates the struggle.
Some Missing Parts
You will see that many of my figures are disjointed or in some cases missing entire bodies. Just like us. We are a hot mess, and we struggle every day. But we're out here doing our thing, and my people that I have brought to this book are in the same boat. Good people trying to get along with what they got. Carried forward, when they remember, by the Psalm 23 prayer.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Psalm 23 (in other words)"
Copyright © 2019 Penn Ketchum.
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