Look to the future, remember the past, but live in the present, making memories that last. The Latin phrase, carpe diem means to seize the moment at hand. For some it might mean to take no thought for tomorrow, to live for the thrill of the moment. In contrast to this, one can be so focused on the future and the fulfillment of goals or dreams that the potential delight of the present moment is missed. This thought is the theme of a song by Michael Head:
Sweet chance that led my steps abroad, beyond the town, where wild flowers grow. A rainbow and a cuckoo’s song. Lord, how rich and great the times are now!
Know all ye sheep and cows, that keep on staring that I stand so long in grass that’s wet from heavy rain. A rainbow and a cuckoo’s song may never come together again, may never come this side the tomb.
The words of the poet caused me to reflect on the importance of delighting in things that happen in everyday life. When I first read this poem I was a young married man with a wife and two beautiful children. I was pursuing a graduate degree along with teaching. It’s so easy to become so absorbed with one’s work and study that you miss the really important things. In my teaching I occasionally reminded my students that the grade they receive at home will ultimately be of more consequence than the grade they receive for their work in a class. If you come home from your busy day and are informed that your daughter has just baked her first batch of cookies, she needs to see your delight as you taste them and hear your kind words of affirmation. We can easily miss the many “rainbows and cuckoos” of life.
John Keble, a 19th C. poet wrote “New Every Morning Is the Love.” Here are some of the lines of his song that I have savored:
If on our daily course our mind be set to hallow all we find, New treasures still, of countless price, God will provide for sacrifice….
Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be, as more of heaven in each we see…. The trivial round, the common task, will furnish all we ought to ask: Room to deny ourselves; a road to bring us daily nearer God….
George Herbert, a 17 C. writer penned these lines,
Teach me, my God and King, in all things thee to see; And what I do in anything, may it be done for thee.
In closing I would encourage all of us to maintain a childlike sense of wonder and live the message of Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, whatever you say, both at work and in your play, remember the One who has given this day, and live for Him as you pray.” (Paraphrase mine) Martin Rinkart, the author of a well-known hymn, reminds us that prayer is more than words: “Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices.”