The king looks at his ring in the morning and in twilight. The king looks at his ring in the midst of problems and difficulties. The king looks at his ring in his happiness and in his sorrow.
Who is this king? Why does the king look at his ring? What does the king see on his ring? The poet Theodore Tilton has composed the poem entitled “Even this shall pass away.” But the poet does not give the name of the king. The poet says clearly that the king is looking at his signet ring to read a message engraved on it. And the message is revealed in the title: “Even this shall pass away”.
Poet Theodore Tilton has written the poem in seven stanzas with eight lines in each stanza. Here to get a fair idea of the poem I quote here the first stanza of Tilton’s poem:
“Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these are they:
Even this shall pass away.”
In nature some trees shed their leaves completely while some other trees shed their leaves partially. As the trees shed their leaves so too time passes out. One year passes to make way for the New Year. Like the trees and the year human lives too leaves behind many things as time passes.
Pleasant and unpleasant experiences, sorrows and happiness, big and small events of our lives, all pass away. As the engraved maxim of king’s signet ring tells us everything in our lives passes away some time or other. Nothing is permanent.
We would like to remember some events during our whole life. But there are also some events which we would like to forget once and for all wishing never to recall them. Whether we like to remember or forget, some pleasant and unpleasant experiences or events of our life remain with us always. Whether we like them or not, they are part and parcel of our personal life history.
At the end of a year we may recall them all such pleasant and unpleasant experiences and events with a totally detached attitude as a preparation to enter the New Year. The lesson learnt from the past good and bad experiences helps us to build our hopes and dreams for prosperous New Year.
Our values, ideals and attitudes play a great role in making our hopes and dreams to be realized in a New Year. We know from our personal experiences that positive values like love, forgiveness, mercy, service, equality and peace have great importance to make our life happy and fruitful. On the other hand, negative values such as hatred, enmity, intolerance, etc. kill the joy of living and rob our happiness. The negative values create tension and disquiet in life.
I am very certain that our new year will be happy and peaceful if our basic value is love; if our ideal is love and if our attitude is love. When we look around us we see that lives of people are very different. Their values, attitudes and ideals are different. But true love understands everything. True love looks at everything with compassion and understands everything. True love looks at people with respect and with a sense of equality. True love deals with mercy and compassion with everyone. Forgiveness and tolerance is the way of true love.
A deep understanding of love tells us that as human beings we are all equal and needs to care for one another. A human child is totally helpless; its survival depends on others. But in real life we are not prepared to accept this reality of equality and the need for one another.
English writer G K Chesterton tells us that, what most frightening for man is all men and women are the children of the one and the same God. The French revolution was based on equality, fraternity and freedom. In it we see the recognition of the equality of the whole people on the face of the earth. Wide spread inequality and indolence are challenges for us today.
If we believe in God, or even if we do not believe in God, we can understand that we are all born equal as human beings. This is also true when we face death which is a great equalizer. At death we leave this world totally alone as at our birth. This universal fact should help us to live a sane life between our birth and death.
Beginning with this new year let us resolve to make our lives happy and prosperous by walking on the path of true love and positive attitudes like equality, tolerance, kindness, etc. Let us resolve to do things on the way of love and peace instead of intolerance and conflict. If we make mistakes in our efforts, let us seek forgiveness, let us be first to apologize with much love and compassion. Keep our goal of happiness as a priority in our lives.
As we step into the new Christian era let us accept first of all that our life is short; our life is fragile. So every new day which we get let us resolve to walk always on the path of love and peace. Let us also be alert against all forces which comes on the way of love such as our misunderstanding, our failures, our misdeeds. When we become aware of them, let us repent and ask forgiveness. Or perhaps we need to forgive even before the offender asks for our forgiveness. We need a big and generous heart to forgive. We need real humility to seek forgiveness from others. Love and forgiveness liberate us from hatred and enmity and ill feeling. Genuine love makes our life happy and enriching. I wish that your new year become for you a unique year of happiness and prosperity.
Changed On: 01-03-2019
Next Change: 16-03-2019
Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2019