[Crusaders' Gate, Jerusalem]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 8: Morning


Flie idlenesse, which yet thou canst not flie

By dressing, mistressing, and complement.

If those take up thy day, the sunne will crie

Against thee: for his light was onely lent.

   God gave thy soul brave wings; put not those feathers

   Into a bed, to sleep out all ill weathers.

     Fly from idleness. You can not fly by changing your clothes, making mistresses (playing the upper hand) and sharing compliments or accomplishments. If you spend your time on these, the sun will witness against you. His light must be returned with interest. God gave your soul marvelous wings. Do not pull out the feathers to make a bed so you can sleep through the difficult times.

     The key word is "fly," not flee; do not flee from idleness, but soar, raise yourself to spiritual heights. There are some actions not worth spending too much time on, as dressing, and there are others not worth doing at all, manipulation of others and some worldly accomplishments. These are busyness and temporal, but idleness for the spirit. If it's not worth doing, don't do it. The sun's light is a gift and a responsibility. It is loaned to us to use, to multiply and to brighten the way for others. Time is not given to us to play the Prodigal, but lent to use wisely. Time is the talent entrusted to God's servants waiting for His return. It is the one talent that all of us have, no matter what else we do not have, some have 1, some 5 and some 10.

     If we should exercise all our talents, we use the wings once in a while to keep them in shape when we need them. Do something. Avoid the unproductive ventures that this world thrives on: fad, fashion, gossip, running other people's lives, worldly achievement and recognition. Minimize what you can not shun entirely. Manage time. Invest your time.

Discussion of the borrowing of ideas in the Seventeenth Century and of the line "By dressing, mistressing."

© 1997 J. R. Arner
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