Numba Your Days!

“Numba Your Days!” the small man thundered from the makeshift pulpit, exhorting World Vision staff in Zambia to come to grips with the fact that our time on earth is limited, so we’d better make the best of it while we can. I was transfixed by the man’s rich, resonant bass voice and the force of his message. Like a member of John Jasper’s nineteenth century Richmond congregation, I was mesmerized. I’ve never forgotten the sermon, though it’s been years.

John Jasper, famous Richmond Virginia pastor whose voice thundered through his most famous sermon, De Sun Do Move, given in 1878. In it, Jasper summoned Biblical evidence that the earth is flat and the sun moves around it. It’s be subsequently shown that in this matter he was a bit mistaken, but this ex-slave thrilled the crowd with his words and gestures, and back then, hey! not everyone had access to Google!

Google tells me it’s Psalm 90:1: “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” 

Raised as an old time Catholic, I was a stranger to the Bible. We weren’t encouraged to read it. In the 1950s and 60s, the Mass was still said in Latin. My religious education was limited: a Sunday school nun who likened our young souls to moldering bottles of milk, gone bad with the ravages of sin.

Years later, the Zambian pastor’s words still reverberate in my soul. He taught me a valuable lesson. Do I let the opportunities that abound in my life slip by, thinking there’s always another day? Or, carpe diem, do I seize the each day, knowing I’ll never have as much time as I think.

It was humbling to learn that I’ve lived 26,529 days, or 2789 weeks and 6 days, exactly 72 years and 231 days, including 18 leap days. 72 years and 33 weeks. Put that way, it’s hard to believe I’ve done enough.

Want to number your days? You don’t need a calculator anymore! There’s actually a website where you can plug in your birthday and find out how many days you’ve numbered — if you’re brave enough. Bet you’re not as brave as this baobab!

Etching bought in 1995 from Dar es Salaam’s Nyumba ya Sanaa, or House of At. I don’t know who the artist is. Sorry!

If this old baobab were to number it’s days, it could count more than three times the ones I have. I can assure you, it’s made good use of every one of them. I actually believe the earth rotates around its baobabs, whales, elephant, and dolphin. It’s too bad their days are numbered! We’ve seen to that! If you want to know what you can do to see that they get just a few more days, go to the San Diego Zoo.

Photo courtesy of the San Diego Zoo page on these most ancient trees

It never hurts to wave the flag!

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