Art and LiteraturePoetry

A Heart Is a Terrible Thing to Mind

The Ladder of Divine Ascent 3.4

In hastening to solitude and exile, do not wait for world-loving souls, because the thief comes unexpectedly. In trying to save the careless and indolent along with themselves, many perish with them, because in course of time the fire goes out. As soon as the flame is burning within you, run; for you do not know when it will go out and leave you in darkness. Not all of us are required to save others. The divine Apostle says: ‘Each one of us shall give account of himself to God.’4 And again he says: ‘Thou therefore who teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?’1 This is like saying: I do not know whether we must all teach others; but teach yourselves at all costs.

4 Romans xiv, 12
1 Romans ii, 21.

School is back in session but you don’t want to go
There are so many things to learn that you don’t want to know
But you know tests are coming, and you must prepare
There’s no time for no child left behind
Not if you know what’s waiting there
A heart is a terrible thing to mind
At all costs teach yourself and beware

You might not be a teacher and you might not have a school
But if you don’t teach yourself you know you are a fool
You might not save others when yourself you can’t save
But you can keep telling yourself the truth
And you’ll be rescued from the grave
Learn to love wearing the yoke in your youth
And when you’re old you’ll keep the rule

Learn while it is the daytime, for swiftly falls the night
Run while you’re heart is burning with that eternal light
Teach those who want to learn and leave the rest behind
Don’t let the worldly drag you to Hell
Buy up whatever wisdom you can find
When the flame will go out you cannot tell
So run toward the test with all your might

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

A Northerner by upbringing, Kenneth has lived in the South since his (first) college days. After returning to college, he began to do more than just dabble with writing, and has self-published a children's picture book, a middle-reader's book, and several collections of poetry. Baptized in the Roman Catholic church, raised in the fundamentalist Baptist church, and having spent time in the Reformed Baptist church, Kenneth settled down in the Eastern Orthodox church in 2006.

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