Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Reflection by Priory Senior, John Russell


A monk should desire eternal life with all spiritual longing and keep the day of his death always before his eyes.

            —Chapter 4: The Tools of Good Works
There is a legend, written by the Persian poet Attar of Nishapur, of a great Eastern king who gathers a conference of wise men to produce something for him. He says that he wants something that will give him hope when he is in despair. After discussing it, the wise men commission a jeweler to make a ring inscribed with the words ‘nothing endures’ – a phrase we usually render in English as ‘this too shall pass’ – and they then deliver it to the king. The king is pleased. He pays the wise men, but, happy with their work, he looks at the ring, and realizes that it is a curse as much as it is a blessing. It may make him happy when he is sad, but it also has the reverse effect. And so the first mood ring was invented.

I’d like to believe that this Eastern monarch’s ring looked similar to another ring, one the juniors received just last Friday. And even without the humbling inscription, the message is the same. It is only for so long that the Priory crest will point inward. Sometimes that will make you happy, and, others, sad. But whatever it makes you, remember that time is not cruel. Because time is not money and it is not stagnant. It’s two things: changing, and of the essence. It is in this transitory time and place that we have the opportunity to grow mentally and spiritually. And that is really the beauty of time – we’re not the same person we were or are going to be, but with even one moment we’ve been given we can improve.

Many of you will wear more rings over the course of your life. High School, possibly college, engagement, wedding… and every time you look at those rings, know that you’re proving our old friend Attar wrong. These are bonds that can never be broken. We can never go back and undo those vows, unmake those choices. Yes, those moments can’t endure, but we do and time does. And, if I can shamelessly steal from a speech I recently heard, this group of people here is like the body of Christ. They’re quickly rising up and out of here and they will never come back in the same way again. But it is the fact that we were here that makes all the difference.

Mother Theresa once said “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Let us begin.