So let us live to live forever
As we search and ponder the purpose and the problems of life, all of us sooner or later face the question of the length of life, and of a personal, everlasting life. This question somehow lingers lifelong, but it most insistently asserts itself when loved ones leave us, or when we think of leaving those we love—for life here goes swiftly, and anyone who hasn’t life hasn’t anything at all. Lord Byron seemed to sum it up in one anguished sentence:
“To see the human soul take wing.” 1
And so it would remain—a fearful thing—except for the assurance of the everlastingness of life. And as the fleeting years we have here come and go, the anguished thoughts for loved ones lost are softened by the gentle touch of time, with the assurance that these things are truly so. To every mother who has lost a child, to every father who has grieved for a departed son or daughter, to every companion left in loneliness, we would turn Job’s question to an answer: If a man die, he shall live again, for surely life everlasting is no more a miracle than this life that now we live. And in the silent, thoughtful hours there comes the quiet conviction of loved ones waiting in that place where nothing that is most personal or precious is lost. And through tears and trials, through fears and sorrows, through the loss and loneliness of losing loved ones—through all of this there is assurance of the everlastingness of life. Oh, you who mourn and each day miss the loved ones you have lost, take this comfort to your hearts, with faith and peace, and patient purpose. Our Lord and Savior is the living witness that these things are so. So let us live to live forever, and begin to do so not later than now. As the poets so well have said it, “The holy spirit of the Spring is working silently.” 2 “Once more the Heavenly Power makes all things new. …” 3
Lord Byron, “The Prisoner of Chillon.”
George Macdonald, “Songs of Spring Days.”
Alfred Tennyson, “Early Spring.”
The courage to reconsider
“There is no dishonor in rethinking a problem,” wrote an acute observer, “but there is disaster in pursuing a wrong course.” 1 But often pride or perverseness or embarrassment could cause a person to continue a wrong course, even when he knows he is wrong. People may issue an ultimatum, sometimes in anger, sometimes on impulse. They lay down rigid, unreasonable rules. They say, “Do this—or else.” Or, “I’ll show them.” Or, “I’ll do this if it’s the last thing I do.” And it may be so. There are basic principles which justify firm decisions. But often stubborn positions are assumed simply on personal opinion. This recalls the plea of Cromwell to his opponents: “I beseech you,” he said, “… think it possible that you may be mistaken.” 2 Sometimes loved ones separate because of pride or stubbornness, or because of the embarrassment of admitting a mistake. But we shouldn’t let such lesser things keep us from reconsidering something that ought to be reconsidered. If we are wrong, it may take courage and character to reverse ourselves. But loved ones should never leave loved ones simply because of something that has been rashly said, when reconsidering will save making more serious mistakes or save a lifetime of regret, wishing we had done differently. Let no one doggedly continue down a wrong road simply because, in some moment of ignorance or anger or impulse, he said he would do so. In such circumstances, always we should have the courage to reconsider, to retract, to withdraw an ultimatum, to admit a wrong, and to say that we are sorry. Young and old, friends and loved ones, children who have pulled away from parents, husbands and wives who have set out on separate ways for the wrong reasons: don’t let pride or stubbornness or hurt feelings or imagined offenses keep you from reconsidering, from turning back, from saying you’re sorry. “There is no dishonor in rethinking a problem, but there is disaster in pursuing a wrong course.”
The Royal Bank of Canada Monthly Letter, vol. 49, no. 7.
Oliver Cromwell (quoted by Bertrand Russell in Unpopular Essays).