Lofty Duties

“Time Misspent” by Sir Aubrey de Vere (Hunt and Lee, comps. The Book of the Sonnet, 1867)

There is no remedy for time misspent;
No healing for the waste of idleness,
Whose very languor is a punishment
Heavier than active souls can feel or guess.
O hours of indolence and discontent,
Not now to be redeemed! ye sting not less,
Because I know this span of life was lent
For lofty duties, not for selfishness.
Not to be whiled away in aimless dreams,
But to improve ourselves, and serve mankind,
Life and its choicest faculties were given.
Man should be ever better than he seems;
And shape his acts, and discipline his mind,
To walk, adorning earth, with hope of heaven.

The inner urge to adorn the earth is intrinsic to man’s being. This urge, which is spawned by the spirit of love, uprushes through the hearts and minds of men. As it passes through, it is transmuted into life expression through thoughts, words, and deeds.

These thoughts, words, and deeds either give rise to good or ill, depending upon the contents of the heart and mind. When the heart is pure and the mind is hinged on truth, that which surges forth is whole, holy and wholesome. When, on the other and, the heart is troubled and befouled and the mind is an alloy of truth and falsehood, that which is created is what might be called evil, or ill.

Note well: the original stimulus is the same. Love is the only creative power. That said, love must be transformed, that is, stepped down from one level of creation to the next; love does not travel directly from “heaven” to “earth” or put otherwise, from the invisible to the visible. It must pass through the transformer, that is, the heart and mind of mankind, to be of value on earth.

There is only one power, the power of love. It is the process by which that power is transformed into life expression that determines its ultimate utility. Used correctly, it produces good in the world. Used incorrectly, it is the source of all of mans ills.

Why is mankind so desperate to catalog and categorize even the minutiae of creation? He sees knowledge as power and believes that only through the accumulation of all knowledge will he be able to control all nature, and by extension, his destiny.

It must be seen that this self-centered state from which few people ever emerge is deleterious. It creates a condition in which man is deluded into believing that he is independently driven to create, that the urge to adorn the earth begins and ends in him. His arrogance leads him to deny the point of connection he represents in the large chain of creation which is forged in the fires of love. As a consequence, he sets out to impose himself on the world around him. He longs for control and security, and sees his salvation in knowledge and the domination of nature, rather than recognizing that his sense of fulfillment and safety come from the extension of love’s dominion into the earth.

We are born to adorn the earth, not as free agents, but ironically, by virtue of our free will. The liberty of free will, however, does not derive from license. The freedom, control and peace of mind we seek comes not as we force our independent will upon the earth around us, but as we do so with “hope of heaven.”

It is for this reason that we must not waste the precious moments we have in idleness. We must constantly seek to improve ourselves – by continuously letting our hearts be made pure and by constantly reconciling our minds with truth – so that our lives and expression might adorn the earth with that which is whole, holy and wholesome.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

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