Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Desiderata- You Have A Right To Be Here

                                  St. Simon's Episcopal Church on January 1, 2012.
                  The Monastery of the Holy Spirit taken last year just after New Year's Day.

This is the oldest part of St. Simon's church, it is now used as a parish hall.  Do you see the large rock, can you tell that it is very much like Stone Mountain? Our county is called Rockdale County, supposedly because it is so ROCKY.  Kids have always loved jumping off that rock in play, my son included... Now, I have printed the entire poem of Desiderata, I thought it was beautiful as a teenager and I still do.  If you already know it, skip down to what I have to say about it! 

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

My sister had this poem which was on a big poster on our bedroom wall when we were teenagers in the early 70's.  I remember it saying that it was written in 1692.  It was actually written in 1927 by a poet named Max Ehrmann.  The confusion over it is that the Rev. Frederick Kates, who was the rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland used the poem as part of some devotional materials for his congregation in the 1950's.   Printed at the top of the poem was the church's name and date of it being founded, it simply said "Old St. Paul's Church,  AD 1692".  The poem became well known after it was discovered on the bedside table of Adlai Stevenson after his death.  (Look at his story here   or you can also look at the info on wikipedia.)   Once you click on the link above, just type in Adlai Stevenson and that will get you to his information.  I always thought he was an interesting man and one that I really admire.

I was reminded of this poem today when I read that studies have been done that show the best thing for people who are suffering from depression is for them to do something for others.  According to Sonja Lyubomirksy who is a professor at the University of California, these deeds are "Positive activity interventions" and recommend that it can be as simple as:
 1) Being kind to others
 2) Expressing gratitude
 3) Thinking optimistically
 4) Meditating on good things

Can anyone see where I am going with this?  Doesn't this sound like what we have learned in church?

There, that is the newest part of St. Simon's church and it is the same rock, but at this angle, it looks as if the rock is laughing at us!  Hey, don't worry little guy, we won't bother you, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HERE!


  1. A powerful message in that poem, I've read it many times throughout my life, and it's true meaning becomes clearer and clearer with the passage of time. That rock does indeed apear to be laughing!

  2. A framed copy of Desiderata was one of my parents' Christening presents to my son Richard.

    I had always thought it was very old though I don't know if I had seen the actual 17th century date. Thanks for putting me wise.

    I hope you have a super year and I look forward to more photos of Stone Mountain and your other walks.

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  4. Just had an e-mail from a friend who wanted me to thank you for your Stone Mountain posts. She came across them by following one of your comments on my blog. She had visited your area many years ago and climbed Stone Mountain. It's a small world. 'If you ever blog her in the near future would you say thank you to her for some half forgotten memories and some never to be forgotten ones.'

  5. Dear Jane,
    It makes me happy that you can see the laughing rock! Never once noticed it before, maybe it is just the angle of my shot and where I am standing when I took the photo! And, of course, I knew that you would know this poem, it was so popular in the 70's, do any teenagers know it now, I wonder?
    Thanks for your comment!

  6. Dear Scriptor,
    I trust that you are feeling better these days!
    I am delighted to see your comments here and to know that this poem holds a special place in your heart.
    Yes! I did get a very nice comment from your friend (she goes by Spesh1, I think) but I don't think she has a blog of her own, unless I am not seeing it somehow. Also, thank you for sharing her lovely quote "some half forgotten memories and some never to be forgotten ones"...what a lovely thought and such a beautiful way to express it.
    Hope you have a wonderful 2012!

  7. Boy, so many things to think about in this post. I'd like to know more about the altar in St. Simon's. Are those the communion rails on each side? What is that shape? Very unusual, very modern. Does the rest of the church straighten down an aisle? I am Episcopalian but haven't gone for a while.
    I do remember the Desiderata as being very popular, and then there was a mock D. which I don't really remember but it had that same music.
    And now, Adlai. He was big in my house growing up. My parents loved him. Just the other day I saw a political bandana in Country Living magazine with the names Grover Cleveland and AS. Tom and I wondered if he was an ancestor. I went to the Unitarian site, and found out he was indeed Adlai's grandfather, and Grover Cleveland's Vice-President. This was such an interesting piece on him. I sort of look at Stevenson, McGovern, and Kucinich in the same way.
    We've got a lot of rock here, too. Nickname- the Granite State. :<)

  8. My grandaunt had the Desiderata on a big poster in her living room when I was growing up. She passed away over fifteen years ago, but these words always remind me of her. She often would read them aloud to us when we visited. Thanks for bringing back some lovely memories today.

    P.S. If you like rocks, you have to visit Ireland. The west coast is a beautiful scenic, rocky masterpiece.

  9. Dear Nan,
    You may see a photo of the inside of St Simon's at
    There, I hope that will work for you...there is a good photo on the home page. Normally, the gal that does this is bang up to date, but as you can see she is having computer/scanner issues! If you look at the photo, the pews are not staight across but curve out, it is a beautiful design. Does it not remind you of a ship upside down? I know a wonderful sermon regarding the design of a church called "In The Navy", I will try to find it! (Sermon by Frank Logue.)
    Richard tells me that Les Paul had a hit with Desiderata in England, but I didn't know it as a song, only as the poem.
    Adlai Stevenson seems to me to have been a very reasonable, intelligent caring individual. Wish we had someone like him around today. So glad that you liked the link to him on the Unitarian site. Oh, Grover Cleveland...I remember telling my 10th grade history teacher how much I liked him and being laughed at! (But my teacher agreed with me!)
    The Granite State, I like it! Georgia is known as the Peach State, although South Carolina produces more peaches, go figure!

  10. Dear Nan,
    Oh dear, I left out something on the St Simons link, but if you just put in into a search engine you should be able to find it! It's a lovely little church!

  11. Mairead,
    I am so glad that seeing Desiderata brought back good memories for you! "A beautiful scenic rocky masterpiece", you are SO making me want to go right now!!

  12. 2 things:

    1. The new header pic looks nice.
    2. Happy New year (I know it's kinda late, but hey! Better late than never!)

    The poem made me reflect about certain things (which I think is a good thing) and I also want to hug that giant rock. (I've always wanted to do that, and to hug a giant tree as well :)

  13. Hey Denise!
    2 things:

    1. Thank you. It has taken me this long to figure out how to put one on here. That photo is from the gazebo which is beside the magnolia lined driveway into the Monastery.
    2. And a very Happy New Year to you too! It's NEVER too late for good wishes, I happily accept them anytime!

    Had you ever heard of this poem before? I hope you like it! Oh, and I love all these rocks (guess you can tell) and I have been called a tree-hugger too!

  14. A recipe for life...wish more people followed it.


  15. SP,
    A recipe for life, I like that.

    Thank you so much for your comment. Maybe you could leave a copy of this poem lying around for some people you know! ;-)

  16. I don't remember this one. But I was in my pre to early teens during the 70s, so I was still consumed in my toy world. Great poem though, thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  17. WebDebris,
    Thanks for visiting and for your comment. So happy that you liked the poem. Of course, my sister born in 1966 knows this poem, that is what comes from having older siblings!

  18. In my comment to Nan, I said that Les Paul had a hit with Desiderata, I should have said Les CRANE had a hit with it. My husband noticed my error, glad that he reads my blog and comments!
    Les Paul was the famous guitarist!