June 16, 2008

Numbering our days

            The Psalmist offers wise counsel: “So teach us to number our days that we might gain hearts of wisdom…” (Psalm 90:12)  A recent translation puts it this way: “Make us realize how short life is…”  Even if one is long-lived, it rarely seems that way to the one living the long life.  As frail children of dust, our lives are fleeting.

            I have just returned from visiting my Aunt Jerry in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She has just celebrated her ninety-fifth (yes, 95!) birthday. She still lives alone, drives, gives piano lessons, and tutors new immigrants in English.  There is sadness, of course, in outliving husband and other family members of her generation, as well as many friends. There is joy, however, in celebrating connection to the generations coming after her, especially two lively great-granddaughters.

            Recently the state of Oklahoma celebrated its centennial (1907-2007).  Aunt Jerry decked out in period dress and visited some elementary schools to talk about Oklahoma history.  It was only natural that the school kids would assume that she was 100! Actually, the teachers were amazed at how much of the history she had witnessed.

            Many things have contributed to her long life—good genes, good habits, good humor, good friendships, and good, abiding faith. She has gained a heart of wisdom through welcoming the stranger, suspending judgment, and indulging with delight the eccentricities of others, including those of her niece in Kansas City.



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