Here is the original poem with the interpretation in brackets)
Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth, Enjoy life while you can
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
‘I find no pleasure in them’– (It’s not like it used to be)
2 before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain; (Pessimistic outlook)
3 when the keepers of the house tremble, (ARMS are weak)
and the strong men stoop, Legs are bowed
when the grinders cease because they are few, (Teeth gone)
and those looking through the windows grow dim; (Eyes failed)
4 when the doors to the street are closed (Become deaf)
and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds, (The slightest sound wakes you)
but all their songs grow faint; (but you don’t enjoy waking)
5 when people are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets; (Nervous and vulnerable)
when the almond tree blossoms (White-haired)
and the grasshopper drags itself along (Lost your energy)
and desire no longer is stirred. (Simply can’t be bothered)
Then people go to their eternal home
and mourners go about the streets. (Then you die!)
6 Remember him – before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (Everything that was you is lost and forgotten)
8 ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’( AV: “Vanity of vanities,” saith the preacher; “All is vanity.”)
The conclusion of the matter
9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails – given by one shepherd.[b] 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Do what you can, while you can, following God’s way, and keep looking to Him for direction. All other routes are futile.
Quote the Palliative care nurse, Bronwen Ware, from her book:
“The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” (Caring for patients in the last twelve weeks of their lives) Article in this weekend’s Guardian.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. (Ignored dreams)
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. (especially men – missed children’s and even grandchildren growing up)
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. (just tried to keep the peace, and led to a mediocre existence)
4. I wish I’d kept in touch with my friends (lost contact and cannot trace them – names changed for women. Let valued friends go from my life)
5. I wish I had let myself be happier. I didn’t realise that happiness is a choice. (Embraced the familiar and the comfort of avoiding change – duty ruled my life)
Choices are often hard with the tyranny of the urgent keeping us from making our best decisions. The rhythm of the Christian life with daily prayer and reading of the Bible will help us to keep a level course, and give us time to place before God our hopes and dreams as well as our frustrations.
Providing a strong triangle of faith, as we look first to Him, then to the others in our lives, then to ourselves, and that will give us a better perspective on life than going it alone.