Life and the Sands of Time

Footprints_in_the_sand wikimedia Gordon_Hatton

I graduate from high school 20 years ago. It was just a few weeks before graduation that I discovered “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was the third stanza from the end that really stuck with me.

A Psalm of Life


    TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real !   Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

    Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o’erhead !

    Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


We need to keep asking ourselves, “What footprints am I leaving behind?”

**image: Gordon Hatton [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


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2 responses to “Life and the Sands of Time”

  1. Karen Swoap says :

    that is a great challenge to us to be doing….and sometimes not knowing the outcome but truly doing what the Lord has set before us and then as you have found out, knowing when your work is done in an area and going on to what the Lord has prepared for you to do next.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      You’re right. It’s part of the call to “embrace ambiguity.” As you point out, I don’t think we are called to solve every problem and meet every need as much as we are called to trust God and move to action, even in the face of uncertainty.

      Thanks, as always, for adding so much insight. We will miss not having your daughter visit us this week!

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