Whenever you see a flower or a blade of grass, says St. Basil, remember how transitory their beauty is—and remember that your earthly life isn’t much different.
I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring you the clear remembrance of the Creator. If you see the grass of the fields, think of human nature, and remember the comparison of the wise Isaiah: “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field” (Isaiah 40:6).
Truly the rapid flow of life, the short gratification and pleasure that an instant of happiness gives us, all wonderfully suit the comparison of the prophet. Today you’re vigorous in body, fattened by luxury, and in the prime of life, with complexion fair like the flowers, strong and powerful and of irresistible energy; tomorrow you’ll be an object of pity, withered by age or exhausted by sickness.
Another shines in all the splendor of a brilliant fortune, and around him are a multitude of flatterers, an escort of false friends on the track of his good graces; a swarm of servants who crowd after him to provide for his food and for all his needs; and in his comings and goings this innumerable retinue he drags after him excites the envy of all he meets. To fortune may be added power in the State, honors bestowed by the imperial throne, the government of a province, or the command of armies. A herald who precedes him is crying in a loud voice. Guards right and left also fill his subjects with awe, blows, confiscations, banishments, imprisonments, and all the means by which he strikes intolerable terror into all whom he has to rule. And what then? One night, a fever, a pleurisy, or an inflammation of the lungs, snatches away this man from the midst of men, stripped in a moment of all his stage accessories, and all this, his glory, is proved a mere dream.
Therefore the Prophet has compared human glory to the weakest flower.
–St. Basil, Hexameron, 5.2
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
If life is so short and transitory, what should I be doing with that short time?
Am I doing it?
Father, I know that all earthly beauty passes away, and all things dissipate like smoke. Help me always keep in mind that only your truth is eternal, and that your truth puts eternity within my reach.
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