Thousands of hippies and retreatants at the Demontreville Jesuit Retreat Center have come to love this poem written by Max Ehrmann, a poet and lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana, who lived from 1872 to 1945. According to the Desiderata web site, “It has been reported that Desiderata was inspired by an urge that Ehrmann wrote about in his diary: “I should like, if I could, to leave a humble gift — a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods.” Around 1959, the Rev. Frederick Kates, the rector of St. Paul's Church in Baltimore, Maryland, used the poem in a collection of devotional materials he compiled for his congregation. (Some years earlier he had come across a copy of Desiderata.) At the top of the handout was the notation, "Old St. Paul's Church, Baltimore A.C. 1692." The church was founded in 1692. It is perhaps understandable that a later publisher would interpret this notation as meaning that the poem itself was found in Old St. Paul's Church, dated 1692. This notation added to the charm and historic appeal of the poem. The poem was popular prose for the "make peace, not war" movement of the 1960s.
Recent events have made me recall the line Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
I have just completed the successful sale of my practice to my associate, Dr. Sean Fleming. This year will mark the fortieth anniversary of the day Terry and I and little Billy moved to Aitkin to start our practice and new life in God’s Country.
I do indeed take kindly the counsel of the years and gracefully (as graceful as a lummox such as I can be) surrender the things of youth.
What gracefulness I may have once had has since been lost to spinal stenosis. Terry and I had to forgo our yearly trip to Haiti due to this condition. I hope my daily regimen of exercise and physical therapy will get me back on the senior tees come spring. My golfing buddies, Al Quam and Jim Knutson, can still hit from the whites or even the tips if so inclined. As for me, I am Golden.
My patients and beloved staff are in the good and caring hands of Dr. Fleming. I have never met a better man, father, or dentist. What a blessing.
I will still practice the wonderful art and science of dentistry. Sitting down to work doesn’t bother me a bit. I enjoy the new technology, be it lasers, scanning impressions, digital X-rays, and the like. In the later years of my practice, I began to schedule longer appointments so as not to be rushed and to have time to truly enjoy and listen to my patients. I look forward continuing or even expanding this tradition.
Northwest Dentistry continues to be a part of my life I relish.
Dear readers, in speaking of life changes, I encourage you to turn to the most excellent article by Dr. Kim Harms on her experiences in Rwanda. Kim has had a rough road in past years and now is making a tremendous difference in the lives of people who were once bitter enemies and survivors of unspeakable atrocities, who have decided that their only hope lies in forgiveness. May God bless them. What a magnificent lesson for us all.
With all its sham, drudgery,
and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
*Dr. Stein is Executive Editor of Northwest Dentistry
. He is a general dentist in private practice in Aitkin, Minnesota, AitkinDent@AOL.com