Human Life As A Shepherd’s Tent

Human life is as momentary as a shepherd’s tent (Is. 38:12) that is pitched erect at every dusk and removed at dawn! It is a brief breath between womb and tomb that disappears as briskly as bubbles on water-surface, snow-drops on green leaves or tears on cheeks. It perishes as quickly as a shadow vanishes. A faulty rhythm of heart-beets or a slightly prolonged halt between breaths is sufficient enough for the death-bell to resound. Shortly or later too have to listen to that final gong. Every animate being on the earth, whether it likes or not, shares this destiny to embrace mortality.

At quite unexpected moments the foot-steps of death that often arrives as an uninvited guest will resound at the entrance of my mortal tent also. I too may be destined to die and decay in the middle of my life-span. And then, in a friction of second, the tent of my life which I set tightened on the strings of my dreams, will be destroyed and be blown away like a broken kite! If so, each step I leave behind is cutting short the distance of my journey to the end. My path extends to that spot of snare where demise hides itself comfortably (Ps. 116:3). Hence, I have little to boast about and carry with me finally in the hollow of my hands.

My earthly tent is so light that it can simply be uplifted by a lazy breeze and it is with such an ease that God is going to uproot it one day. And then my likes and dislikes will totally be irrelevant because in His eyes I am only an insignificant creature. I have neither the merit to own a little space in His holy thoughts nor the worth to earn His special consideration. What glory and value do I have in order to be remembered or counted priceless by Him? My body and soul, hunger and thirst, day and night and everything I claim to possess is nothing but His favor. I have nothing left in my begging-bowl except what I have received form His bounty. The roads I tread hardly come within my control. Moreover, even my foot-steps are guided and guarded by Him for my feet are so week to support me.

I can only roll up, like a weaver, the fabric of my life on the loom of my dear dreams and hopes. It is God who cuts it away even without seeking my consent. And it is these finiteness and uncertainty of my life-tent that prompt me to conduct my short stay in it fairly and live the rest of my days in the awareness of death. Although my earthly tent, as it draws closer to its end, will one day perish perfectly, another heavenly and eternal abode will surely be mine after my final departure. And it is this strong conviction that urges and leads me on.

When my little tent of life turns to be a home of holiness my death itself shall be precious to my God. And then I will not in fact die instead death shall be a gain to me. O Merciful Shepherd-God, let your presence and providence be always upon my little tent (Job. 29:4). When you are beside me I will walk fearlessly the shady valleys of death.

– – – written by Fr. Thomas Pattathilchira, CMF