"Teach us to number our days aright
that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Maybe it's because I'm getting older, or maybe it's because I've finally slowed down enough to let my thoughts ruminate and travel the more cognizant recesses of my mind. Whichever the case, I've been thinking alot about this passage of scripture. I memorized this verse out of Psalms when I was about 11 and just loved the poetry of the words. It sounded like it meant something deep and impactful, though my 11 year old brain didn't really understand what about the words was so meaningful.
This summer my husband and I got to go visit my grandma Joy in the wonderfully hot town of Mesa, AZ. Did I mention it was hot? My parents had rented a house with air conditioning and a pool and ceiling fans in every room. A definite oasis from the heat of June in Arizona. We stayed for a week and every morning of that week my parents would go pick my grandma up from the nursing home (or as she calls it, the Looney Bin), along with my great aunt Wilma and then we would spend the day eating and talking at the house in the cool, air conditioned living room. It had been my plan to ask questions and record memories. My grandma is a living, breathing history book and I wanted to be sure to soak up as much of her as I could. She has memories that no one else does. Dustin and I recorded hours of conversation and I have slowly been going over the recordings, bit by bit. I remembered one such recording of my grandma and my great aunt talking about World War II, just bits and pieces of their memories of what it was like to hear the news of war going on around them, to have rationed gas and meat, to have military training in their backyards and in my grandma's case, to have mock training battles played out on her family's farm. She was 11-16 while the war was going on and my great aunt was 18-23. Below is an excerpt of some of my grandma's memories:
"Well, I think of World War II and I think of the couples clinging to each other to say goodbye, and the men getting on the trains to leave their loved ones, trying to be brave to say goodbye. And that left such a heavy impression on me. Seeing all the sadness and the loneliness and the fright and just about every window [of her neighbor's houses] would end up with a ribbon indicating that someone was dead in the service."
While I sat listening to this, I thought of current events in our world. Of wars going on all around us. Some countries, so battle torn that death is a familiar and old friend. "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." The humility in knowing that our days are not our own. I imagine those couples at the train station, preparing to say goodbye, knowing they may never see each other again...., and I am humbled. There are those days that I take for granted..., that I will wake up to see my husband lying next to me and I can most definitely expect him to be home from work at 5:30pm. That we will get to do something fun on a Saturday or we can enjoy a leisurely evening on the deck, enjoying an ice cold beer and the warm sun as it gracefully exits the stage for the moon to share her presence with the world. I remember that wisdom is knowing that this life is fleeting and these blessings are more beautiful than I can fathom on this earth. It's recognizing God's grace in the moment as an ever present constant, like gravity and time.
It's knowing that I don't deserve these blessings.
I didn't earn them.
But I am freely given leave to embrace them and enjoy them, making my joy that much more complete.
Sometimes we get to sit at the table with Sorrow and eat her meal and share her wine, but we are also allowed to feast with Joy and revel in her laughter and embrace her wisdom.
"His favour would be a full fountain of future joys. It would be a sufficient balance to former griefs."
- Matthew Henry Concise Commentary