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REFLECTION FOR TODAY: “If” by Rudyard Kipling

August 4, 2016

This continues series of columns begun on August 1, 2016.

I have been invited, challenged, and encouraged to make some comment about the situation in our world, our country, and our national politics. I have thought and prayed about how best to respond.

I have decided to post through my blog some of the inspirational words that strike me as important. These will be wisdom, poems, prayers, scriptures, and hymns that I come to in my own life of devotion. Some will be clearly religious. Others will seem secular. Some are profound; others mundane. All I believe are worth our time. I suggest reading them, pausing to reflect upon them, and then pondering the meaning throughout the day.

These postings are not intended to prompt debate. They are offered to encourage thoughtful, prayerful reflection. Please keep in mind that I have been a Christian pastor for more than fifty years. You will find a distinct Christian influence in these offerings. That is not intended to exclude anyone. I believe that those of you from other faith groups will find wisdom here that can be translated into your own traditional framework.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. Kipling’s works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including “The Man Who Would Be King” (1888). His children’s books are classics. In 1907, at the age of 42, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize.

This is a poem by Rudyard Kipling entitled “If.”. I have changed a few words to make it gender neutral.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when others doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all others count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of effort in every single mile,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll live with integrity, my child!

Words for reflection and a prompt to pray.

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