Today's reading: Psalms 88-90 (89-91)
"So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 89/90:12
This coming Sunday, we remember St. John Climacus, the author of The Ladder of Divine Ascent. One of the rungs on the ladder is a topic which makes most of us uncomfortable, but it is a common theme in the writings of the Church Fathers nonetheless - the remembrance of death.
"Do not deceive yourself, foolish worker, as if one time can make up for another. For the day is not sufficient to repay in full its own debt to the Lord. It is impossible, someone says, impossible to spend the present day devoutly unless we regard it as the last of our whole life. And it is truly astonishing how even the Greeks have said something of the sort, since they define philosophy as meditation on death." - from The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 6
It is important to note that this is not a constant existence of despair, nor is this an active desire for death. Instead, it is an awareness that our life will end and that we should be ready for that end at all times. As the Psalmist said, this remembrance, closely related to the fear of God (Proverbs 9:10), will lead to wisdom.