Received an e-mail late last night from old friends, a retired pastor and his wife, who told me the news of their son, their oldest child, who, at 53, started feeling a bit weak, they say, a few weeks ago, and therefore went in for tests. The tests turned up something significant, and he was sent to a specialist, who identified the problem as ALS, which is also renowned as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
There is some hope, as some who suffer ALS keep on going for a long time. Others, of course, don’t. “Won't get into numbers,” they wrote—or rather the mother did. Right now, their son “has to be pulled up out of his big comfortable chair if he wants to get up. Has to use a walker. Totally weak arms and legs so far. Can hardly pick up his arm or hold spoons when he eats. We go see him......often.”
She says friends from work and church come visit him often at home, and he keeps a positive outlook, says “he will enjoy each day as they go along.”
He has three little grandchildren who live almost next door. “They perk him up,” the note says. His wife is wonderful and caring. She pushes the wheelchair when they go anywhere. And then this: “So........... it is finally sinking in to me that this is happening to our oldest ‘child.’ I seem to call him ‘Danny Boy’ now.”
All of that from old friends, just last night, late.
That Moses would write this line—that makes sense: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
It’s almost impossible to read the story of the Exodus and not be anti-Semitic. After all God had done for them, taking down Pharaoh and his minions in the Red Sea, then establishing his own tent right there among them thereby granting him the glory of his presence, those Israelites still found things to bitch about.
Yahweh splashes manna around every morning, and they want duck in wine sauce. He gives them duck and they want sirloin. Is it any wonder He got sick of them, told them an entire generation had to die before he’d bring them home? The Israelites give Jews a bad name.
Once, at a burning bush, God instructed Moses to speak for him—and, in a way speak for his people before Pharaoh. In Psalm 90, that’s what he’s doing, speaking for them, and himself, and certainly for all of us. He’s asking for something few of us ever get—satisfaction. Maybe lions get it; after all, they sleep away ninety percent of their lives. But I don’t think humans ever do.
And I have an e-mail to prove it. I don’t know Danny-boy, his kids, darling grandkids or his loving, caring wife. But I know his parents, and I know at least something of their sadness. I wish they weren’t suffering. I wish Danny Boy wasn’t dying. I wish those grandkids weren’t losing a grandfather. Things just aren’t right in the world.
Moses’s prayer resonates because we all know the impulse very well. “Satisfy us,” he begs. It’s the song we all sing, every day of our lives.
Except, maybe, Danny Boy, who will, as he says, “enjoy each day as they go along.” Except maybe him.
Which is something to remember this morning, January 1. Help me number my days.