This Too Shall Pass

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the press of days, in the midst of the prosaic everyday tasks that must be done, in the routine of routine, it is easy to forget. It’s easy to forget that this moment is but a flash in the pan, a brief wink in the span of eternity. I am but grass, a flower flourishing in a field, my life but a breath.

Complacency beckons. Wonder disappears, picked apart by the small things that fool me into believing they are important, and even by those things that truly do matter, and I begin to view life as “normal”, all the small, incredible moments that make up my life as everyday, commonplace. Because today looks so much like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, because the dishes need washing and the laundry needs folding and the floor needs mopping and the bills need paying and there is just so much that needs doing, because there’s never enough sleep, because the world demands attention and social media grabs, grabs, grabs without letting go, because evil looms large and grief and catastrophe threaten and doom sits on the doorstep, it’s easy to forget that each moment, each breath is a gift. It’s easy to forget that I get this precious life to live, these choices to make, these people to love. It’s easy to forget that the sunshine is warm on my face and there is a God who cares and this moment, good or bad, won’t last forever, I won’t be here in this place forever.

A legend exists, sometimes attributed to Jewish origin, sometimes to Persian, about a great king who asked his advisers to give him a phrase that would make him happy when sad. They deliberated, then returned with an adage that is now well-known. “This too shall pass,” they told him, but it had a double-edge to it, for it reminded him that his great wealth, his kingdom, his reign, would all end one day. “This too shall pass,” they said, and it echoes down to us through the ages, a reminder that this life is temporary, that these moments, whether good or bad, are not eternal.

This too shall pass, and that is both a comfort and a charge.

A comfort, for in the darkest of days, when my heart is breaking and grief seems as though it might swallow me whole, for those times when everything in the world seems wrong and I cannot stand underneath the weight of it all, it is good to remember that someday, there will be light again. This cannot dull the pain, of course, cannot take away the sorrow, and when I am at my lowest, such a sentiment can seem almost a mockery. And yet, I cling to this hope, this impossibly weak branch within the torrent, this flickering candle in the inky darkness. Something better awaits and this too shall pass and, though it may not happen until eternity comes, one day all will be right.

A charge, for in the good times, I am to make the most of my time, to live with gratitude and joy, to remember to wonder. It becomes a mantra, a whisper in my heart and in my soul, to live with my eyes and my heart open, to recognize the Giver of all good things in the call of a bird, the sigh of the breeze, the smile on my daughter’s face. Life is short and time, how it flies, and I have the hope of eternity set in my heart, the knowledge that I have but these few brief years to love well, to live well. This too shall pass, and so I strive to be present in the here and now.

A comfort and a charge, to be reminded of the brevity of this life, to be reminded of eternity in the press of the mundane. This moment too shall pass. May I choose to use it well.

This Thing Called Life

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One Response to This Too Shall Pass

  1. I tell myself “This too shall pass” a lot, like today, when I’m laid up with terrible lower back pain and couldn’t do the least of things and watched the house entropy itself into greater and greater chaos while I rested.

    Sometimes I like to add to it the Julian of Norwich quote I love, which I think dovetails with it nicely: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Sometimes an eternal perspective is needed!

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