A Psalm comes to mind as I pass the Boston Common on my normal route to work. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”.
The city is in its normal chaotic Monday morning state with walkers and bikers bleary eyed and impatient. Disheveled and smelly homeless are side by side with Suits and Designer bags, because this is the city and its streets and potholes are no respecter of persons.
And I fear I don’t know what the verse really means. What is a ‘heart of wisdom’? What does it look like? How do I respond with a heart of wisdom? How do I live as one with a heart of wisdom?
Mondays are not a good time for this type of contemplation. I have that weekend hangover that longs for today to be Saturday and the beginning of days off instead of Monday and the ending. Today I would like to be Maggie Smith from Downton Abbey with her famous “What is a Week-End?” so immune is she to the middle class struggle.
But if not Monday, when? If I want to figure out this ‘heart of wisdom’ and I want to live it. I know that putting it off for another day is not wise.
And I may not know what it is, but I surely know what it’s not! A heart of wisdom is not rushed, nor is it apathetic. A heart of wisdom is not proud or narcissistic. A heart of wisdom does not speak before it thinks; does not jump to conclusions; does not boast; does not treat others poorly.
I’ve already fallen in three of these areas and it’s not yet 7:30 in the morning. Is there any hope? Hope is in the verse itself, for as I look at the brevity of life, I am sobered. A childhood friend from New Zealand lost her 19-year-old son to a tragic accident this weekend; cancer seems to be quickly claiming the bodies of people I know and care about; I have people dear to me who would give anything to be able to get up and go to a job. And a heart of wisdom would look through all this to see the big picture, would look through the chaos and pain and see the eternal, live according to the eternal.
“Teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom.” I repeat the verse silently in the elevator to the 4th floor. This today is my prayer.