I had a birthday last week, and, as a part of the evening celebration, took a moment to “zoom out” on my life. The psalmist reminds us that human life is like grass, or clouds. It is brief and passes by. In light of this brevity, What are those things worth doing? What is not just futility? George Herbert wrote a poem about an experience he had. It is a pleasant little piece, and makes a suggestion about what is worthwhile.
In this moment of reflection his words came as a conviction and comfort. Take a moment, if you like, to smell this small flower of a poem.
I made a posy, while the day ran by;
Here will I smell my remnant out, and tie
My life within this band.
But time did beckon to the flowers, and they
By noon most cunngly did steal away,
And withered in my hand.
My hand was next to them, and then my heart:
I took, without more thinking, in good part
Time’s gentle admonition:
Who did so sweetly death’s sad taste convey,
Making my mind to smell my fatal day;
Yet sug’ring the suspicion.
Farewell dear flowers, sweetly your time ye spent,
Fit, while ye lived, for smell or ornament,
And after death for cures.
I follow straight without complaints or grief,
Since if my scent be good, I care not, if
It be as short as yours.