Ed Maki-Schramm, Conductor and Composer

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Deep Thoughts

 Max Ehrmann 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. 

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. 

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. 

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. 

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. 

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Barbara Brown Taylor, an author and an Episcopal priest, recently wrote a thoughtful article in the Christian Century entitled, “The Poured-Out Church”. I want to share part of it with you:

…when I consider my life of faith, this world is clearly where my transformation has taken place. It is in the world that I have met the people who have changed me—some of them believers, but far more of them not—people who have loved me, fought me, shamed me, forgiven me, sanding down my edges on one side while they broke whole ragged chunks of me off the other. The world is where I have been struck dumb by beauty, by cruelty, by human invention and greed. The world is where my notions of God have been destroyed, reformed, chastened, redeemed. The world is where I have occasionally been good for something and where I have done irreparable harm.

The reason I know this, however, is that the church has given me the eyes with which I see, as well as the words with which I speak. The church has given me a community in which to figure out what has happened to me in the world. It has given me a place to love and grieve, within a tradition far older and wiser than I. It is the church that has poured me into the world, in other words—which is counterintuitive. How can a church survive that keeps pouring itself into the world? I cannot possibly say. All I know is the gospel truth: those willing to give everything away are the ones with anything worth keeping; those willing to look death full in the face are the ones with the most abundant lives. Go figure...

“…those willing to look death full in the face are the ones with the most abundant lives.” Can we look death full in the face? Are we willing to pour ourselves into the world? Will we risk much for the sake of the Gospel?

Let us always remember that we do not exist for the sake of the Church. We exist for the sake of the world. We are called to pour ourselves out, driven by compassion for those who are hurting in this world. If that means we have to look death full in the face, so be it. Cannot God raise up something new from the ashes of our vanquished dreams?

Let us not live in fear of death, or the little deaths that each of us will face as we walk together with Christ in our midst. Let us be willing to risk much for the sake of the world, and proclaim with our every word and deed the healing power of God’s love.

No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu

There may have indeed been moments when God may have regretted creating us. But I am certain there have been many more times when God has looked and seen all these wonderful people who have shone in the dark night of evil and torture and abuses and suffering; shone as they have demonstrated their nobility of spirit, their magnanimity as they have been ready to forgive, and so they have dispelled the murkiness, and fresh air has blown into that situation to transfigure it. It has filled people with new hope that despair, darkness, anger and resentment and hatred would not have the last word. There is hope that a new situation could come about when enemies might become friends again, when the dehumanized perpetrator might be helped to recover his lost humanity. This is not a wild irresponsible dream. It has happened and it is happening and there is hope that nightmares will end, hope that seemingly intractable problems will find solutions and that God has some tremendous fellow-workers, some outstanding partners out there. Each of us has a capacity for great good and that is what makes God say it is well worth the risk to bring us into existence. God believes in us. God depends on us to help make this world all that God wants it to be.