For years I’ve always found the words of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata to be an inspiration. The online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, describes Ehrmann’s verse as a ‘prose poem’ and informs that the title of this work, Desiderata, translated from the Latin means, ‘things desired’. In this wonderful poem we are given a key to good living, even a code that one can live by.
I still find myself in much agreement with the Desiderata message, even the take on God. Do I believe in God? Yes, of course I do, and that belief is central to my life as a minister of religion. St Paul described our God as the God in whom ‘we live and move and have our being’; the immanent and transcendent God.
Ehrmann describes our relationship with God as follows:
‘You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.’
In a world that can be seen to be alienating, terrifying and brutal, Ehrmann gives the assurance to each lonely and suffering heart, that we are not alone: ‘no less than the trees and the stars you have a right to be here’. In the cosmic scheme of things everything is as it should be’. We have the Old Testament depictions of the manifestation of God, Moses and the burning bush, Elijah’s hearing of the still small voice after the earthquake, wind and fire and later the Christian Church’s theological constructs and concepts. But Ehrmann simply advises that you should ‘be at peace with God whatever you conceive Him to be.’
There is something comfortingly fatalistic in the Desiderata. For Ehrmann, there is a divine plan: ‘whether it is clear to you or not, the universe is unfolding as it should.’ In acceptance of this, we should be at peace with God because we should know that the chances and changes of life are not entirely susceptible to human prediction. Ultimately, everything is in God’s hands. Perhaps we could liken our lives in this created world, to children in a playground whose brief moments of play may be measured out against Ehrmann’s ‘unfolding universe.’ Accordingly, at a given point, each of us must leave the noisy exuberance of it all and return to the source from which we came. In the meantime, ‘amidst the noisy confusion of life’ as Max Ehrmann would have it, let us seek peace for the soul, remain cheerful and strive to be happy.
My best wishes as always.