Numbering Our Days

June 23, 1932. That date is my grandmother’s birthday. We just  had an eightieth birthday party for her in anticipation of the day.

When I look back through the lens of history, at the wars and political changes and cultural shifts and inventions that have happened since 1932, eighty years seems like many lifetimes.

But when my grandmother looks back through the lens of experience, I’m sure it feels like a blink.

This is the mystery of time. Depending on what lens we look through, it seems to pass differently.

Through the lens of fond memories, 25 years ago can look as clear as yesterday.

I can still see my 8 year old self and my 55 year old grandmother spending time at her bridal store. I am walking through the store and running my fingers along the intricate beadwork of the dresses, dreaming of the day I would get to wear one. My grandmother is sitting in another room and running the sewing machine, making alterations for a bride whose day had already come.

Now my grandmother’s shop has been sold, my wedding dress has been worn, and my grandma’s fingers have become too arthritic to sew.

Though lenses make it feel different, time never changes. Time keeps ticking forward one second at a time.

We celebrated my grandmother’s birthday with a party on June 10. Which also happened to be my son’s birthday. He just turned two.

His birth two years ago is implanted in my brain as if it just happened two minutes ago. I can see myself jolted awake in the middle of the night, three and a half weeks before his due date. I am fumbling for my phone and trying to call a friend, since my husband is out of town. I am riding to the hospital, nervous and excited for all that lies before me.

How is it possible that two years have passed?

Time keeps ticking forward.

But then there are moments, through the lens of the daily grind with him, when time seems to slow. When whines grate on nerves and bedtime can’t come soon enough. And everything, everything, seems to take forever.

Yet, time keeps ticking forward.

My grandmother’s birthday and my son’s birthday are only 3 days apart. There are just a lot of years in between.

When we look forward, the years seem to stretch on forever. When we look back, they seem to have disappeared in a flash.

Time keeps ticking forward. The good and bad moments in our lives make up a blink in the scope of history. This could be depressing. But I think it can be empowering.

Our moments both matter much and matter little. We can move on from the bad, knowing they can be forgotten by others. We can treasure the good, knowing they can be remembered by ourselves.   

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

I had quite a difficult time writing this post. The words I found to describe the passage of time felt either too simplistic or too cheesy. How would you describe the way time seems to change, yet stay the same?