Monday, December 26, 2011

Year End Reminder: The Importance of Trifles

Quick, can you name the 19th century author who wrote A Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language?  He’s the same person who was a professor of classics at General Theological Seminary in New York.  Give up?  His name is Clement C. Moore. 

Most people can be forgiven for not remembering Professor Moore or his writings.  But finish this sentence:

“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house…”

I find it interesting that though 99 out of 100 people reading this blog are not familiar with the name Clement Moore, probably 99 out of 100 people could finish the sentence and, perhaps the whole poem, of Twas The Night Before Christmas.

This is the last week of the year and as we reflect on the events of the past 365 days we take stock of accomplishments, victories, failures, happy and sad days.  Yet, in reality, we really don’t know how this year will stack up as it relates to posterity or eternal good. 

By all accounts, Clement Moore was a pretentious man, who was prideful in his profession and accomplishments as a scholar and who had disdain for, what some would consider, silly things of this world.  Though his poem was instantly popular as a children’s nursery rhyme, which he wrote for his own children, he denied being the author for over a decade calling it a “mere trifle,” something that was beneath his dignity.  Nearly two hundred years later, however, few people remember the author’s identity and, I dare say, have no interest in reading his academic writings, but they can finish the sentence, “…not a creature was stirring, not even a…”

Now in my sixth decade on this earth, my prayer is that, though I need to be serious about my vocation and calling, may God deliver me from being a self-absorbed prig.  Life is not about our accomplishments, but our contributions.  Though Clement did indeed contribute much through his accomplishments as an educator in his time, it was the mere trifle that he penned that has remained longer than the remembrance his name. 

Mind the mere trifles in life; it’s the stuff that legends are made of.