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Quid hoc ad aeternitatem, as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
Used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail,
What does it matter in the light of eternity? And yet, and yet,
With total respect for eternity, don’t you love your problems,
The smallness of them, the salt and roar of them, considering
The alternative? The blizzards of bills I can never pay in toto,
The surly son, the dismissive daughter, the wet shabby house,
The battered car, the shivering pains, the grim brooding debts,
The dark thread of fear that I might not have been a good dad,
The feeling sometimes that maybe there was a better husband
For my wife if only she had hung in the contest a little longer,
And the ones that haunt me every minute of the blessed week,
The health and joy of our kids, and the fragility of their future;
But there are great moments when I realize that all the muddle
Is so very much better than aeternitatem. Could it be that what
Keeps us awake at night are the greatest gifts we can ever get?
Just thinking. Because soon enough, as real time is accounted,
We’ll be muttering Latin with Bernard, and what we will want
More than anything, even there, in the incomprehensible Light,
Is to be in a chair late at night, frightened, rocking a sick child.