As I read today’s lectionary texts, I am struck once again with the necessity of living every moment to the fullest without grasping at the past or the future – which I no longer have or do not yet have (and maybe never will, who knows?). This is not a new theme but as I write I am hearing in my head some lines of a song by Greg Greenway, a wonderful musician and poet. The refrain goes like this: This is the light I carry. Tonight is a celebration. Have no complaints, sinners and saints, under the bright constellations…The hymnal’s wide open at the Church of What Is; let’s sing!
One of my alternative psalm translations says this: (Please pardon the repetition, if repetition there is): Time for you is as nothing, Lord, a thousand years of it, your yesterday, passing as a watch of the night. We are your dream, we’re briefly here and then simply gone, like grass. In the morning green and growing, at sunset we are withered, dry. So teach us now the limit of our days, that we may give our hearts to wisdom’s voice. And turn a gracious face toward us, for we are here on earth to serve. So may this grace, this graciousness be ours, and rest upon us now and evermore we pray. Amen. (Ps. 90)
The familiar (to me) translation of one of those lines says, “Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain wisdom of heart.” Although I note the great similarity of the two translations of that sentence, I’m tempted to jump on the word “limit” in the first one as something different from the obvious meaning, i.e. the “number” as in the traditional sentence. What if the limit we are supposed to learn is what can be accomplished in a day, which shifts as we age. Can we learn to accept our days as we live them with the level of “success” or “failure” without needing to even apply those words to anything? Can we be awake to the wisdom, the lesson in each passing moment, so that without lamenting our limitations we live as we were meant to – in the graciousness with which we were created, which is the way that I believe and hope God is attending to us? Let us pray for this grace today.