Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What is Worth While?

What is Worth While?
by Anna Robertson Brown, 1893

The question of life is not, How much time have we?
-- for in each day each of us has exactly the same amount:
we have "all there is."
The question is, What shall we do with it?
Shall we let this priceless gift
slip away from us in haphazard deeds,
or shall we adopt some plan of saving
and of systematic doing in our lives?
What shall this plan be?
How shall we determine what things
are worth giving time to?
Let us think about this question.
In our thoughts, let us not forget one point,
-- time spent in being interrupted is not time lost.
A strong thinker once said,
"No one knocks at my door who is not sent by God."
We are spending time well when we are paying it out to God,
to buy the things he means our lives to own,
whether he is putting before us a duty to be done,
a friend to be won, a small service to be rendered,
a child to be consoled, or a house to be set in order.
There is time enough given us to do
all that God means us to do each day and to do it gloriously!
How do we know but that the interruption we snarl at
is the most blessed thing that has come to us in long days?
But in all our lives, though time is given us
to eat, drink, sleep, work and play,
there is no moment given us to throw away.


Let us not try to escape our work, nor to shirk it.
Above all, let us not fail to see it.
As long as we live we have a work to do.
We shall never be too old for it, nor too feeble.
Illness, weakness, fatigue, sorrow,
-- none of these things can excuse us from this work of ours.
That we are alive to-day is proof positive
that God has something for us to do to-day.
Let us ask ourselves as we arise each morning,
What is my work today?
We do not know where the influence of to-day will end.
Our lives may outgrow all our present thoughts,
and outdazzle all our dreams.
Every day is a test-day; every hour is an examination-hour.
God puts each fresh morning, each new chance of life,
into our hands as a gift, to see what we will do with it.

These are just a few excerpts from one of my favorite vintage books, What is Worth While?  by Anna Robertson Brown, PhD.  (You can click on that title to read the whole book online.  There is so much more in it than these excerpts even begin to touch.) This small jewel started as a speech for college alumni in 1893; reprinted dozens of times over several decades, it spread far and wide the message of making your life count for eternity. My grandmother Dorothy Ransom Hess, who turns 95 today, received it as a gift from her mother-in-law, Mary Graves Hess (pictured right), for whom my mother and my oldest daughter are both named. I love the fact that this has been passed down from generations of mothers!   I am printing out these quotes to put on my wall as a reminder to use my time well.  I have much to learn in this area!

Henry and Dorothy Hess in the 1940's with their five children:
Dick, Henry, Mary (my mother), Nancy, and Barbara 

1 comment:

  1. I just posted a link to this on facebook. Very good. Just what I needed to hear this morning. What a small world. I comment on a silly picture of Karen's and am introduced to a treasure chest of wisdom and knowledge (you and your blogs). Thank you, Virginia. Thank you, Lord. :) Gloris


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