My life is but an instant, a passing hour.
My life is but a day that escapes and flies away.
O my God! You know that to love you on earth
I only have today!...
St Therese was sure of God - her song doesn't record doubt or allow for any questioning of purpose. For the Saint, her only purpose was to love God - and I've no doubt that this gave her joy.
If you doubt - and doubt is the essence of the human condition - you cannot live St Therese's life. So you must live your own - knowing, as St Theresa did, that today could be your last. This is not to argue for the libertine's despairing indulgence or to do nothing purposeful. But it is to say that we do not know the purpose of life.
For sure, some will tell you, with their dry, scepticism that life's purpose is mundane - eat, drink, procreate, survive until you die. That this is the "scientific truth" - as if such truth is the only truth. I know that life is magical - not a spell cast by some benign wizard - but something that gives pleasure, joy and, we hope, contentment.
Like Paul Gallico's magical boy we should set aside the prestidigitation, the clever hubris of spell-casting and should look out at the world - for there is magic. There is the dew of the grass, the wind rustling the tops of the trees, the buzzing business of insects - a whole system of magic that we should look on in wonder.
If we spend our time in purposeful, human concerns we miss all this magic. Even worse we try to break the system of magic into its components - to miss that the magic is Nature's whole not Nature's parts.
So when you set about each day, seek something of joy and pleasure - and hope that, as I hope for you, that such search brings contentment.
What is our life? A play of passion,
Our mirth the music of division,
Our mother's wombs the tiring-houses be,
Where we are dressed for this short comedy.
Heaven the judicious sharp spectator is,
That sits and marks still who doth act amiss.
Our graves that hide us from the setting sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus march we, playing, to our latest rest,
Only we die in earnest, that's no jest*.
Go out and savour the Magic of the World. It is as close to our purpose as we can get.
*Sir Walter Raleigh showing his renaissance man tendencies