“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, RSV).
In the two years since the pandemic struck, plans have been disrupted, people I knew have died, and I have reached my seventies. These days, these months, these years have been marked by waiting and by worrying. I’m not so sure about wisdom.
Waiting. There has been so much waiting: waiting for vaccines to be developed, waiting for test results, waiting for the next shoe to drop. Waiting – Do we simply postpone the planned trip, or do we cancel? Ready to go out to eat this week? Let’s check the case numbers; no, not yet, maybe next month.
Yes, we have worried. Every cough or sneeze raises anxiety. Before we were vaccinated, every trip to the store prompted an assessment of risk and reward.
Waiting. Worry. And weariness. I am so, so tired of all this. I feel like I have become a more timid person, always hesitant, always thinking of excuses not to do something.
Of course, there has still been beauty and joy in these years. I took a wonderful trip to the Pacific Northwest last September, seeing great natural beauty while re-connecting with family and friends. I have served rewarding part-time interim ministries with two congregations. With our mortgage re-financed and an increase in my pension, I am more secure financially than at the start of the pandemic.
And yet: waiting, worry and weariness. These clouds never seem to go away. The psalmist prays that an awareness of our own mortality – of the limited number of our days – would lead us to wisdom. May that indeed be so. May I greet each day as a gift to be treasured. May I savor each bite of food, each breath of air. And may I not live in fear, but walk by faith.
Another translation of that Psalm reads “Teach us to make use of our days and bring wisdom to our hearts” [ICEL]. That is my vow, as I face the coming years.