“Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.”
– From the poem “Days” by Billy Collins
In this time of trouble we may be blinded by the incredible gift we receive – the day. Now each new day is filled with fears, challenges and difficult decisions. At first we rise to the occasion, following some of the best advice I’ve ever heard, “Take one day at a time, doing whatever needs to be done in the moment.” But, as time and trouble continue it becomes harder to keep on keeping on. A gift of the day can feel more like a trial than a blessing.
Even in “normal” times (whatever that was) too often we took the gift for granted. That our eyes opened at all was not acknowledged as a gift. There were so many things to do, people to see and places to go. The blessing of time was for us a given barely worth noting. And yet now more than ever, perhaps because of COVID-19, we have come to realize that a day, trial or blessing, cannot be simply assumed. Billy Collins goes on in his poem to observe how precariously each day rests on the day before and the towers of days we build are in constant danger of collapse. We are “hoping to add one more. / Just another Wednesday // you whisper.” We cannot know if the gift “set upon our forehead moments before (we) open (our) eyes” will be blessing or trial, but we long for the gift, the day itself.
The Psalmist was no stranger to trials. In Psalm 118 he lists, among other challenges, “All nations surrounded me … They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side … They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns.” And yet by the end of Psalm the Psalmist boldly declares, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it … O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” The Psalmist acknowledges that the primary blessing is the gift, the day itself. The gift allows for almost infinite possibilities.
As the Coronavirus drags on with any possible end being many days away, let us not take the days given to us for granted. They are not assured, nor are their content guaranteed to be pleasant or easy. However, as Mr. Collins observed, no doubt each day is a gift. With the gift, the day itself, comes life and possibility. The appropriate response to such a gift is gratitude. Let us rejoice and be glad.