Saturday 4 March 2023

Life and death

"But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery: And their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace. And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality. Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace he hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust he hath received them, and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds." 

Wisdom 3.1-9. I read it at my father's funeral.

“The course of life is fixed, and nature admits of it being run but in one way, and only once; and to each part of our life there is something especially seasonable; so that the feebleness of children, as well as the high spirit of youth, the soberness of maturer years, and the ripe wisdom of old age—all have a certain natural advantage which should be secured in its proper season.”

        Cicero in Laelius

“… men, of course, who have no resources in themselves for securing a good and happy life find every age burdensome. But those who look for all happiness from within can never think anything bad which nature makes inevitable. In that category before anything else comes old age, to which all wish to attain, and at which all grumble when attained.”



  1. By the way, Old Testament. I entered an almost empty church in Padua and checked the section of the open Bible. It was Jeremiah 17.5-10, in Italian. As a Romanian I understood most of it but I still had this feeling of half-understood, of mystery, as when you realize that there's an allegory in a painting or other work of art but you are not sure if you got the meaning intended by the author. What struck me was how powerful the words of God speaking at the first person resonated: Solo Io, il Signore, scruto i cuori. "Only I, the Lord, see straight into your heart", preceded by the line "Il cuore è ingannevole più di ogni altra cosa, e insanabilmente maligno; chi potrà conoscerlo?", "the heart is unaccessible more than anything else, and hopelessly malign; who could know it?", in my approximate translation. I felt the words were addressed directly to me, the book was opened there that afternoon for me to come by and read it.

  2. Peter MacFarlane4 March 2023 at 14:21

    "the souls of the just are in the hand of God" - a very moving thought, and I can't hear these words without the Brahms Requiem playing in my head..."Die gerichten seelen sind in Gottes hand" etc etc.