How to Go Placidly Amid the Noise and Haste


If there’s a bright side to spending the entire day in bed with a brain-crushing, vomit-inducing migraine, it’s the extreme clarity I often get afterward. No really. It’s like that crazy headache blows out all the pipes in my brain, and I wake up eerily calm and clear.

It’s a costly prize, so let’s not waste it, shall we?

This poem pealed through my mind this morning like a lone church bell. Maybe you could use it. Stop what you’re doing for a second and read it. Slowly.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story. 

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism. 

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass. 

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself. 

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy. 

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

When we feel like we’re not enough.

We run harder and faster, furiously comparing, plotting and driving ourselves - to what? To that place where we have no worries? Sorry to tell you but that place doesn’t exist - it’s an inside job.

But when we choose to go placidly amid the noise and haste, we find God doing the work and not us, just as He has been all along.

I forget this all the time. Sometimes it takes a migraine to remind me.


I heard Chris Gore - an incredible Kiwi pastor - tell a story about when he was young, maybe 4 or 5. The highlight of his life was going to work with his dad, who was a builder. It made him feel like he was contributing something important to the family, like his Dad was.

His father would ask him to carry 2x4’s from the truck to the job site, but because he was too small to carry them himself, his dad would “help.”

Chris didn’t know he was carrying only 20% of the board’s weight. His dad carried 80%.

To go placidly amid the noise and haste, I think requires us to be like Chris at age four, working hard to do important things, and trusting God carry the weight.

If you did that today, what would it look like?