Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Here Today

Yesterday morning when I was doing the readings for Vigils, I came across lines I've read hundreds of times before, but this time around, they stunned me: "As for us, our days are like grass; we flower like the flower of the field, the wind blows and we are gone and our place never sees us again" (Psalm 102: 15-16). Why was this suddenly such startling news? Perhaps because I am spending hours mowing and weed-whacking the grasses that always overtake our pasture and orchard this time of year. Perhaps because I so love the spring wildflowers that are so quickly dessicated and blown away. Perhaps because I have been losing too many good friends to death these days.

Yet how accurately the metaphor--dried grass, blown flowers--captures the brevity and fragility of human existence! Over the years I have spent so much time looking inward with such meticulous attention to every minor detail of thought and emotion that I have managed to convince myself I am a solid, weighty, immutable thing, incapable of not being. Which of course I am not, as the psalmist here is reminding me. Like a brief spray of yellow petals in an open field, I have my one chance at flowering here on earth before the wind takes me and I become something else--something that, even with faith, remains a vast and disturbing mystery.

Without the counterweight of God, this deep insight can lead to vertigo, as the early Modernist writers found out to their despair. But with God in the foreground, this picture of precarious human existence becomes aureoled in hope: "From your dwelling you water the hills; earth drinks its fill of your gift. You make the grass grow for the cattle and the plants to serve our needs, that we may bring forth bread from the earth and wine to cheer our hearts; oil, to make our faces shine and bread to strengthen our hearts" (Psalm 103: 13-15). Physical life, no matter how brief, is filled by God with meaning and purpose. The dry stalk of wheat, the lowly olive, the individual human life: all are meant to become blessing.


John said...

Yes, we are eternal beings made to love God.

Brian said...

It good to remember we live always in the Light of Eternity and that God is our end.