Joan Chittister: ‘Our Days Are Like Grass’

“As for us, our days are like grass; We flower… the wind blows… We are gone.”– Psalm 103

The psalmist speaks out of a social situation from which our generation and culture need to learn: To the psalmist life is temporary, fragile, daily “redeemed from the grave.” Survival is a matter of massive human effort and natural hardship. The land to be cultivated is desert; water is scarce; foliage is sparse and scrawny and fragile. Every day life is a blessing of mammoth proportions.

But now we take life for granted. We feel invulnerable. Therefore, we lose sight of the brief gift of time and our needs. We know better the needs and weaknesses of others than of our own.

We act as if we’re here forever. We spend time as if we have nothing but time. We fritter away the great things of life: gospel commitments, family, prayer, nature, and responsibility for play and things that serve ourselves—ambition, clothes, consumption.

We think we have forever. We’ll do what we have to do later: we’ll reconcile “later;” we’ll settle down “later;” we’ll pray “later;” we’ll get some order in our lives “later;” we’ll study the nuclear thing, the economic thing, the racism thing, the sexism thing, “later.” After we get finished with the very important things we’re doing now.

Nevertheless, today we too have been “redeemed from the grave.” The question is “Why?” Whatever the reason: do it now. —Joan Chittister, OSB

From Songs of the Heart: Reflections on the Psalms by Joan Chittister (Twenty-Third Publications)