Hopefully, I turn 22,278 on Thursday. 

Days, that is.  It’s an exercise I picked up four years ago when I entered into widowhood. The number of days allotted to my late wife was 21,923. For some reason, I outpaced her by 355 days. But it’s not meant to be a competition. It’s more of a practice of gratitude for what I have been given than a focus on what I didn’t get.

The psalmist prayed, “teach us to number our days.”

Us, not me.

Our days, not mine.

These words are important since I have no idea the number of my days other than the ones I have been given today. Only you will know that denomination after I am gone.  This is why the practice is a group effort.  We look at the collective offering and come to a conclusion.

Life is brief. It is unpredictable. It is fleeting.

And it is a gift. One to be unwrapped and enjoyed, as well as to be given away.

I remember a time when I didn’t feel that way. It wasn’t that long ago I stood at the edge of the abyss, looking down, wondering if my best days were behind me. I thought the abyss might hold an answer for me, which is the persuasive nature of the abyss. It invites all comers. If you don’t give a shit, it doesn’t either.  It agrees with you. In your darkness, it tells you what you want to hear.

It doesn’t care about adding to the number of your days.

Thankfully, I came to my senses and stepped away from the abyss when I could hear the voices of Hope more clearly than the cacophony of the darkness.  Sometimes, silence speaks louder than noise.

Since then, I have taken up the practice of gratitude. I take time to reflect on important days in my life. My birthday, the birth of my children, the day I discovered faith.  All four of these days presented me with a gift that I never want to take for granted.

In keeping with this practice, I also discover the ways I have given gifts to others. Like the former cook I heard from recently.  I took a risk on him and gave him a second chance in my kitchen. I didn’t know that he was on his way to drinking himself to death. But as he stood at the edge of his abyss, he heard the Still, Small Voice saying, “I’m not finished with you yet.” He’s sober now, and cooking amazing food for people again. He told me, “Thank you.”

This is why I am a rich man, wealthy beyond dollars.

Gifts received. Gifts given. All within the number of days allotted.

Teach us 
To number
Our days
That we may gain
A heart Of wisdom

Psalm 90.12