If This Were All

by Edgar A Guest

If this were all of life we’ll know,
if this brief space of breath
were all there is to human toil,
if death were really death,
and never should the soul arise
a finer world to see
how foolish would our struggles seem.
How grim the earth would be!

If living were the whole of life,
to end in seventy years,
how pitiful its joys would seem.
How idle all its tears!
There’d be no faith to keep us true,
no hope to keep us strong,
and only fools would cherish dreams —
no smile would last for long.

How purposeless the strife would be
if there were nothing more,
if there were not a plan to serve,
an end to struggle for!
No reason for a mortal’s birth
except to have him die —
how silly all the goals would seem
for which men bravely try.

There must be something after death;
behind the toil of man
there must exist a God divine
Who’s working out a plan.
And this brief journey that we know
as life — must really be
the gateway to a finer world
that someday we shall see.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

Word Press daily prompt: Abstract





Important to Know

Lotte Lehmann became a famous opera singer just before WWI and performed a total of 93 roles in her career. She retired from the opera in 1951 and became a music teacher for over twenty years.

One day she was visiting with an up-and-coming young soprano who remarked sympathetically that “It must be terrible for a great singer like you to realize you’ve lost your voice.”

“Not at all,” the older lady replied. “It would be terrible indeed if I didn’t realize it.”

Plugging the Infinite Loopholes

Today’s WordPress Daily prompt: infinite. I thought this quote might fit the bill.

Ever wonder why legal contracts are pages long? I was just reading a book by Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock, who offers this tongue-in-cheek explanation:

Legal sentences must of necessity be long. A lawyer dare not stop. If he ever seems to have brought a thing to a complete end then somebody may discover something left unsaid and invalidate everything.

The Tenth Commandment is able to say “Thou shalt not steal.” A lawyer has to say, “Subject always to the provision of clauses 8-20 below thou shalt not steal, except as hereinafter provided.”

Even at that the lawyer would have to take another look at the word steal and scratch it out in favour of, “thou shalt not steal, pilfer, rob, appropriate, hook, swipe, or in any other way obtain unlawful possession of anything.”

Then the word thing would start him off again to write: “thing, object, commodity, chattel, property….”

Excerpt from the book HOW TO WRITE by Stephen Leacock

This reminds me of a news item I read one day:

Corporate lawyers must have a tough job fine-tuning lawsuit-proof explanations, especially in the US.

One day an American bought himself a brand new motor home, but crashed it while travelling down the highway. He explained later that he’d left the motor home to drive itself while he went to the back to get himself a cup of coffee. He sued the manufacturer for (I forget how many) million dollars in damages because the instruction manual didn’t specify that you can’t leave the steering wheel unattended while the vehicle is in motion.

Won his case, too. Good lawyer?

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentle People

Here’s wishing each one of you a happy Christmas season, good times with family, and above all, peace in your hearts.

“Once in royal David’s city
stood a lowly cattle shed
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed.
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.”

Cecil F Alexander

Never in history has one birth, or one Person,
so inspired the world of art and music ever after.

To Know the Truth We Must Love It

You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?

I remember my initial reflections when I read  this Word Press prompt the first time around:
If a person is agreeable to you giving them truth serum, that means they’re willing to tell you the truth. If they’re willing to tell you the truth in the first place, you don’t need to give them truth serum.

If for some reason they wish to conceal the truth — which is definitely when you need the truth serum — they aren’t going to take it willingly. You’ll have to sit on them and inject it before you start asking questions.

Thus if I want to learn the truth from someone I’ll ask them. If they want to tell me they will. If they don’t they won’t. And I can’t think of anyone who knows something I need to know so badly that I’d resort to forcing truth serum into them.

I could stop there but — philosopher that I am — I’ll carry on with some general thoughts about Truth and share a personal experience, a rather painful revelation of the truth about myself. We all have them from time to time, right?


The other side of this Truth issue is that we often don’t really know the truth ourselves. Ask anyone in law enforcement; witnesses don’t agree. We know our version of it. Maybe we haven’t even allowed ourselves to know the truth. So then, how are we capable of telling someone else?

For example:
“She broke up with me,” he mumbled over the phone.
“Why?” I asked.
“I don’t know. She never said.”

Having heard a little of her side, I don’t think “she never said.” I think he just didn’t hear. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, there amidst the fog of feelings and fudging, accusations, explanations, and excuses.

Pilate asked Jesus that famous question: “What is truth?” Not because he really wanted an answer. His subsequent actions prove that he did indeed see the truth clearly; he just didn’t want to let it hit him that hard. And he knew it would if he acknowledged it.

Before we can really know the truth we have to love it. Love truth even if it knocks us right out of orbit. Embrace it even when it reveals that I’m wrong, my actions are unfair, my motives selfish. Love the truth and refuse to bury it under a heap of self-justification.

If I really want to know the truth I won’t deceive my conscience by saying, “Sure I said that to her and it probably did hurt her, but just think what she said to me in the first place.” I won’t try to justify what I did with “What he did was just as bad — or even worse!”

It’s hard to love the truth that much. It hurts to let the truth reveal that my words were deceptive, my actions spiteful. And then to come out and admit it to the ones I’ve wronged. Big time OUCH! I’ll admit that I haven’t always loved the truth that much.

My mind goes back to one Sunday evening after our church service when I was moaning to a dear Christian friend about my back pain. I’d had chemotherapy for breast cancer in the spring, sank into a depression in the summer, and now in late fall I’d injured my back. I was definitely frustrated!

She listened, then commented, “And maybe there’s a little self-pity in there too?”

It wasn’t given as a criticism or accusation; she left it as a suggestion. But how it stung!
On the way home, turning her remark over in my mind — and the unfairness of it — I was fuming for awhile. Look what all I’d been through! Then the question came to me: “What if it’s true? What if you really are dipping into the well of self-pity? Wouldn’t you want to know it?”

So I silently prayed, “Lord, Is this true? If I really am feeling sorry for myself here, let me see it.”

And I did see it. It wasn’t nice. I didn’t like it. But I knew it was the truth.

The next morning my friend phoned up and told me how sorry she was she’d let that comment slip out. I told her, Martha, DON’T apologize. That was exactly what I needed to hear.”

“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

Jesus words were true then and now. Self-deception wants to lock us up in a prison of “Everybody’s against me. Nobody understands me.” Truth can open that cell door, but the first glimpse of light may be awfully painful.