Monday, January 28, 2008

O World, Thou Choosest Not The Better Part by George Santayana

O World, Thou Choosest Not The Better Part

O world, thou choosest not the better part!
It is not wisdom to be only wise,
And on the inward vision close the eyes,
But it is wisdom to believe the heart.
Columbus found a world, and had no chart,
Save one that faith deciphered in the skies;
To trust the soul's invincible surmise
Was all his science and his only art.
Our knowledge is a torch of smoky pine
That lights the pathway but one step ahead
Across a void of mystery and dread.
Bid, then, the tender light of faith to shine
By which alone the mortal heart is led
Unto the thinking of the thought divine.
--George Santayana

Most of you have heard the sad news that President Gordon B. Hinckley died yesterday. I say sad news because those of us who are left behind won't be able to enjoy his wisdom, love, humor, and inspired leadership anymore. I don't think it's especially sad for him since he will be reunited with his dear wife and many good friends who have gone before. Also, if anyone is entitled to hear the words "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," it's President Hinckley.

This is a poem that President Hinckley quoted in a BYU Hawaii Commencement speech. He quoted just the first four lines, emphasizing the need for faith in a world that focuses on intellectualism. I put the whole sonnet in because I like the image of science being a smoky torch -- certainly better than nothing, but not enough to truly light the way. It reminds me of the hymn Lead Kindly Light. In that hymn, the light doesn't illuminate the entire path either, but it's a light we can depend on nonetheless.

I also wanted to post this quote from President Hinckley. It's from a regional conference in 1997, but it was read at Sister Hinckley's funeral. I have it framed on my desk so that I can see and read it often:
“It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. … If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers”

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