05 September, 2007

numbering the days

Yesterday I went for a brief afternoon run through the Gimghoul Historic District, down that shady road across from the theater. There weren't any cars or people and it was so calm and beautiful; I felt as if I'd discovered a treasure all my own. The houses are grand and self-contained; they look as if they were acutely conscious of their vastly high real estate value. It is a heavily wooded and secluded landscape. The trees and the gardens and the grass were so fresh and inviting that I think I could have been content to run for hours (had it not been ninety-three degrees). I'm not entirely sure why, but being there brought considerable joy to my weak little heart. I felt hope; I felt the sovereignty of God. As I ran, I chanted the first few verses of Psalm 23 out loud in a gasping rhythm. The Lord is my shepherd inhale exhale I shall not want inhale exhale He makes me lie down in green pastures inhale exhale He leads me beside quiet waters inhale exhale He restores my soul. I prayed and I rejoiced. I knew, with a throbbing conviction, that there is a Living God.

To cool down, I walked through the graveyard behind my dorm, which is my general practice after a run. It is a peaceful place to me. Yesterday in particular the graveyard held a strong gravity: it refocused me, reminded me of the triviality of my problems in the scope of eternity. As I stepped between the headstones, crouching down at some to read the names and the dates, to imagine who these people were, what lives they must have led, my heart quickened and I prayed, Let me not leave only dirt behind. How I fear the wasting of my life! It is so preciously short, Father; forgive me for what I have wasted even now. My life is so short; I grow closer to death with every passing day. Thus do not let those days pass without meaning. Do not let me squander them as I am so prone to do; do not let me become so consumed with myself and my infinitesimal world. Whom have I in heaven and on earth but you? From everlasting to everlasting you are God.

It is good to be reminded of such things. I do not think it is a morbid propensity; rather, it is a much needed reminder of mortality. College so easily makes one passionately self-centered and freely deluded that you are indestructible; you cannot die, there are a thousand promising years stretched out before you. It's a seductive lie and I've believed it. I don't want to believe it anymore. We pass away too quickly to believe such dangerous things.

"The length of our days is seventy years--or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:10-12

1 comment:

Liz Hundley said...

abby, your giftedness with words amazes me. and it also is comforting to know that i am not the only one who finds running in that area and walking through the graveyard perspective-giving and peaceful. that we should find life in death. praise be to the King!

thank you for writing and being inspiring :)