Last week I went to Bill’s gospel essentials class, which is supposed to be attended by investigators and those who are becoming reactivated. None of them showed up, but there were five others who came, I’m not sure why, they are all active.

The lesson was on charity and we were discussing judging and comparing and I said something off-hand about that part of the quote in Desiderata that goes: “do not compare yourself to others, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

Boy, they thought that was wise and asked me to repeat it. I’d been a little embarrassed to even quote it because it’s kind of schmaltzy and, I thought, passe. They’d never heard of Desiderata. In my teenage day (late 60’s, early 70’s), one was thought to be deep if you could quote it—-and/or Kahlil Gabran. I would sit on the lawn in front of the library and hope some cute boy would see how wonderful I was to be reading “The Prophet.”

Anyway, for you youngsters (I heard while watching “Family Feud” that the birthday people dread most is 40. Huh? Forty is young! Although I remember some 80 year old women once telling me, when I told them I was 52, “Oh, you’re a baby!”), here is Desiderata. It is pretty wise, really. It makes for good meditation. Age? Age is relative. I’m 60, but I act like I’m an uneducated 15 year old, look like I’m 80 and inside, I feel like a scared kid. Well, not as scared as I used to be, experience has seen to that. Here it is!:

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.