Desiderata (Latin: “desired things”, plural of desideratum) is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945).
It exhorts the reader to “be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be”, and to “keep peace with your soul”. “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,” wrote Ehrmann, “it is still a beautiful world.”—Wikipedia
Unquestionably, some of this prose-poem may be a bit pretentious, it revolves around concepts, at times which are not entirely sound, especially for the Christian believer.
We note these things and look for what we need. My old pastor liked to observe, “Swallow the meat, and spit out the bones.” That seems fitting, especially now. But no matter what we say, this particular work has very much wisdom for each of us. It is worthwhile I think.
This world that we’re immersed in needs hope and peace. Especially now.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. 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.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
St. Francis of Assisi once wrote, “The devil never rejoices more than when he robs a servant of God of the peace of God.”
Sometimes I think I’ve made the devil dance far too many times.
I confess that peace has never been really high on my list. Love, joy, kindness, and even goodness are clear priorities. Peace… not so much. Until it’s not there. And then I get frantic by its absence and look for it with manic bewilderment.
Sometimes I don’t understand why God still loves me. Anxiety eats at me. I beat myself up by my last failure. The guilt of my latest sin grows until it looms larger than the blood that saved me. Sometimes religious people have the most neurosis.
I’m afraid that we are taking “the present tense’ out of the Gospel. The past tense is far preferable to us as we manage the Christian life. We like to make check marks on our list. Repentance– check. Baptism– check. Bible study– check. I think it gives me a definite feeling of ‘maturity.’
But these matter little without intimacy with Jesus.
I certainly haven’t arrived, and it seems I’m still the hideous sinner I always was. I cannot pretend otherwise, even with a truckload of cosmetics at my disposal. I know, I’ve tried. And I’m still ‘ugly.’ I do know forgiveness, and I do walk in its wonderful light (by grace.)
I read Luther 30 years ago. (And Bonhoeffer would say something similar.)
“When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
This is the first of his 95 Theses nailed to the door of Wittenburg. There is a present tense here we can’t ignore. I don’t just repent over smoking, beer drinking, fornication, or hypocrisy, once and done. But my entire way of living is to be one of repenting.
Repentance is the key to opening the door of grace.
“All of the Christian life is repentance. Turning from sin and trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners aren’t merely a one-time inaugural experience but the daily substance of Christianity. The gospel is for every day and every moment. Repentance is to be the Christian’s continual posture.”
Luther’s last words, on his deathbed, written on a scrap of paper words, “We are beggars! This is true.” Thirty years before, he was only echoing his first thesis. It seems dear ones, we are to live at the foot of the cross. Everyday. Because we desperately need to.
“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
A Child has been born who has always been the Everlasting One.
Remarkably good news for rascals like us. More than anything, we desperately need a Savior. He has come for us in this amazing way, totally unpredictable for those looking for a king. Leave it to Him to always jolt us when we least expect it.
All that He is, we needed. He fits the needs of mankind perfectly. Isaiah told us of what He would be like, and is a completely ideal Savior for people like us. He was ‘custom built’ for our needs. Isaiah 9:6, tells us what He will be:
a son who is a ‘gift,’
a counselor who is wonderful,
a strong God,
a steady father,
and a prince to bring us peace.
This is not a comprehensive list, for He is all this and more. (And He is so much more!)
I’ve found that the Lord Jesus is full of surprises, but He always honors simple faith. The shepherds understood; King Herod and the religious cabal did not. When you follow Him, expect the unexpected, even if He chooses to come in a manger. He seems to enjoy this approach. He chose the humblest way possible.
“There were only a few shepherds at the first Bethlehem. The ox and the donkey understood more of the first Christmas than the high priests in Jerusalem. And it is the same today. “
~ Thomas Merton
Please let God show you more.
I hope you have a happy, joyful, and thoughtful Merry Christmas!