Do you remember the movie, Dead Poet’s Society? I was a teen when it came out, and there was a lot in the film which struck me. Sometime back, I showed just the beginning of it to my religious ed. class, the part where Robin Williams had his class gather around the trophy cases in the school hallway. He told them to move in close and listen intently. Did they hear it? They moved in closer… Then Williams whispered, “carpe, carpe diem.” “Seize the day, boys.” The students were a bit freaked out, then realized it was Williams. In the end, his message was that life is short. All those people who won those trophies and were in the photos were long dead. “Food for worms,” said Williams.
Carpe Diem means seize the day. Since seeing Dead Poet’s Society for the first time, I’ve thought about this ancient saying from time to time. There’s wisdom in it. When I was at Eastern Point Retreat Center a few weeks ago, I was surprised to see a sun dial in the photo above, mounted on a prominent wall of the old house, facing the ocean, with Carpe Diem carved into the stone. Those wealthy people who built the house and lived there for many years may have envisioned the words to mean “live it up!” “Let’s have a party!” “Tennis, anyone?” “Yes, I believe I’ll have another…” Sorry to be a downer, but they’re all long dead. They may have seized the day, but what was it all about? I wonder how they envisioned God when they followed the sundial’s movement from morning to dusk. Hopefully they did and are now enjoying eternal bliss.
How about you? If you were challenged to seize the day tomorrow, what would you do? Where would you go? Who would be a part of it? Where would you find God in it? Some things to think about over this long weekend, don’t you think?