Drafting a Life

The screen before me is a blank slate. As I write, I am placing black letters on a white background. A new shape appears each time I hit a key, each stroke advancing the little bar that marks my place.

There is nothing past the blinking cursor. With the mouse, I can move to check a word I typed in the past, but there is no place in the computer, no hidden cache that will reveal the future of this document or what I should write next. The act of creation happens on the fly, changing the configuration of the page, eating up the white space without mercy.

Our lives happen much the same way. Every day is another keystroke. Every act, and every time we choose not to act, is recorded. Our future is unknown to us. All we know is what we have written, and the act of writing it.

The draft might be full of typos and grammatical errors. It might ramble without direction, full of stops and starts and unresolved issues. The words might reveal anger and bitterness or speak powerfully of love, joy and hope.

I am an editor. Every day I judge drafts. I look at what others have written, and decide whether the message is worth a second look. But when it comes to the draft of my own life, I echo Moses’ prayer:

Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting, you are God…

A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night…

 Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away…

Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom…

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

 (Psalm 90:2,4,10,12,17)

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