No man chooses the hour of his going hence.
Only to a few saints is it given to know it
If we knew it, could we bear it?
We could not.
Many would choose the hour of their going hence,
To quit rather than be fired--
To retain their illusion of agency,
In charge of your little world.
What more than death serves to remind us
Who wish to control our little worlds,
That the world is out of our control?
Our vaunted technologies are all towers of Babel,
Vanities of vanities,
Futilities of futilities,
Chasing after the wind.
Have you caught it yet?
Sometimes, we can slow death, but not stop it;
And sometimes it cannot even be slowed.
There is more on heaven and on earth, Horatio,
Than you know, or are even able to know--
We can split the atom,
We cannot create life.
We cannot prevent the hurricane
From making its landfall,
And we often misguess where it will land.
We cannot still the earthquake,
For all our Richter scales.
Reinforce your architecture,
And your buildings still fall down.
We can hem in the forest fire,
But it will still eat its trees.
Man cannot prevent his going hence.
All his strength and all his science
Are ultimately laid low by it;
Try to defeat it all you want,
But you will overreach.
Lay siege to it all you desire,
It will force you to retreat.
Tell me, with your fishhooks, O man,
Have you yet caught Leviathan?
When the elderly die, it's a pity;
And sometimes it is a mercy,
If their dying is slow and painful;
A mercy, if you love and must watch it.
When the young die, it is tragedy,
Something past understanding.
Why would they die in their youth,
In their prime? When they have not yet
Had full measure of time?
When their life should still lie before them?
This we know: that you, man, are mortal,
And the hour will come for your going hence.
When the Bridegroom comes at midnight,
Will your lamp be found alight?
When the Son of Man comes like a thief in the night,
Will your soul be found watching?
Let us look to the parable
Of the rich man with all his storehouses.
He was not called a fool for his storehouses,
He was not called a fool in that he was rich.
For what then was he called a fool?
For assuming that all he had came from himself,
Assuming that forever he'd live with his wealth.
But the Lord said, You fool,
On this very night
Your life will be required of you.
God lays claim on you,
Whether you claim him or no.
And then James says, If you say
That today or tomorrow, we will go
To such-and-such a city, spend a year there,
Buy and sell, and make a profit--
This is foolish arrogance,
For you do not know
What will befall you tomorrow.
For what is your life? It's a vapor
That appears for a time
And then fades away.
So instead, say,
If the Lord wills, we shall live
and do this or that. Do not boast
Of tomorrow, for you do not know
What even today will bring forth.
Why is such boasting called evil?
We cannot claim tomorrow.
Yesterday, we cannot change.
We have only Today.
This is why Hebrews says,
While it is still called Today,
Do not harden your hearts
In the deceitfulness of sins.
We are become partakers of God
If we hold steadfast
Until the end.
And the day that God lays claim on us,
Will be called Today.
After that there will be no more tomorrows,
And all times will be now.
For with God, all times are Now.