Dorothy Van Doren, in “Words to Live By”, chose some words of Saint Francis of Assisi. She chose the words “I would finish hoeing my garden.” These words were Saint Francis answer, when someone asked me why are working in his garden, what he would do if he were suddenly to learn that he would die at sunset that day. He said, “I would finish hoeing my garden.”
“And they seemed to me”, Dorothy Van Doren writes, “They seem to be an answer to all the trouble young people these days who are beginning live in a world that appears to hold no security for them or for anyone young or old. Why should they bother to go to college when the atom war’s just around the corner?
“Some people will say. ‘Why should a young wife have a baby when the ceiling may collapse on his crib? Why should one paint a picture or write a song or beginning novel? We can’t be sure of anything,’ these young people say, ‘not now or next year or the year after that. Why should we try to make a life for ourselves?’
“They ask, ‘Why should we go to classes or take examinations, or get married, or look for an apartment or try for a job? Next spring or some spring too frighteningly near. It may all go, the life we’ve begun.’
‘Our world is in deadly peril. We’ve lost the promise of tomorrow.’ they will say.
“Well, Saint Francis put the answer in a simple metaphor. ‘Go on hoeing your garden.’ The task is still here. The house to build, the book to write, the examination to prepare for. If the future looks dark, so did it on the morning before the first Christmas. And however dark it seems today, however dark it is,” she writes, “we shall meet life better if we have fulfilled the present to the best of our ability. Today is still ours, along with the obligation to live it to the fall.
“As Saint Francis said, we must go on hoeing our garden.”