GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
~Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Longevity runs in my family. Both sets of grandparents lived into their 90’s; my mother’s mother until she was 96, my father’s father until he was nearly 100. Several greats lived into their 90s; one was 100. Both my parents are 80 (or soon to be); my mother has three siblings approaching 90 and my father’s brother is in his mid-70s. Barring accident, it would be logical to assume that my sisters and I have every reason to expect to live that long as well.
Part of me likes this idea, especially if I still have all my faculties in my 90s the way the majority of my long-lived relatives did. But there’s no guarantee on any of this. No guarantee that I will live that long, no guarantee that I will not sink into my dotage without a coherent thought in my head, no guarantee that I will even see tomorrow, never mind another 40+ years.
And then there’s the issue of the quality of life on earth, even now. As I get older, things seem to be getting worse in general, but even more so morally and spiritually. Maybe it’s just that I am becoming more and more aware, maybe it’s because things actually are getting worse. But that’s why there’s another part of me that kind of shrinks from nearly doubling the years I’ve already lived. I’m not so sure I want to hang around and see life as we know it deteriorate even more.
As a Christian, though, I know there is something more for us, sooner rather than later. As a Christians, I have a hope, an assurance, a very concrete and specific plan of escape. Robert Herrick’s Carpe Diem poem (“Seize the Day”) embraces the philosophy that we should make the most of our time now because time passes quickly and we don’t know how much time we’ll have. But he stops short of saying what happens next. He doesn’t say what Christians know, that there will come a day when we no longer have to worry about the quality or quantity of life.
The seniors wrote Carpe Diem poems this week. I was impressed with their clear realization that they are just passing through this world, and that there is something more and better for them if they put their lives in God’s hands. “God has a plan! Seize the day. Put it in His hands!” wrote one young man. And a young lady wrote, in part,
Let new ideas begin to sprout.
Try new approaches, do not doubt.
The world is falling at this pace.
We should live merry, filled with grace.
Live today as it was your last.
Don’t rely too much on the past.
Ayer is gone. Today resides.
The world will soon have to decide.
The world, indeed, is falling at a fast pace. And while it may be in my genes to last a long time, I am longing for the next world already. I am longing for Jesus to come right now. I love that I work in a place (a Christian school) where I can, as another young lady wrote, “Get to know the Lord Whom us adores.” Let us each “Hold fast to the Lord, come what may. Seize the day, young souls, seize the day!”