The Fading Glories of the World, as Seen in an Attic

The photo at the right, which I took in the attic of our parish school, reminds me of the ancient Latin phrase Sic transit gloria mundi (Thus passes the glory of the world). These are the symbols of victory in sports events, much trained for and fought for. Once they were proudly displayed in the trophy case of the main hallway. Over time they were shifted behind the newer trophies, then relocated to less prominent locations in the school, then to the closet, and finally to the attic.

My old “letter jacket” from high school still hangs in my closet, but it stopped fitting me decades ago. I also have a few tarnished medals I won running the mile. They once graced my “letter sweater,” with the big red, white, and blue letters “GF” (Garfield High School) sewn on. That sweater is long gone. I once strutted in it proudly as the medals and gold bars gleamed; now the races that merited them are but dim memories.

Scripture says,

  • For we have here no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come (Hebrews 13:14).
  • For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor 4:18).
  • As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; but the wind passes over it, and he is gone, and his place knows him no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him (Psalm 103:15-17).

There’s an old hymn that says,

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see.
O Lord who changes not, abide with me.

Yes, earth’s glories pass away, but the glory of the Lord endures forever. If we are faithful, it is into that glory that we will enter. The Lamb is the light of the City of God!

I suppose there is a sadness in seeing all those rusting and bent trophies in the school attic, but there is also something freeing. The transitory nature of earth’s glories helps us to be less obsessed with them. The praise of men has its place, but the praise of God and His rewards will last eternally.

Another old hymn says, “Only what you do for Christ will last.” Whatever glory the trophies in that attic once signified, only the self-discipline and teamwork—if done in Christ—will last.

These are just some things I thought about as I stumbled upon the faded glory of some old trophies.

2 Replies to “The Fading Glories of the World, as Seen in an Attic”

  1. Archeologists are finding ancient, extinct civilizations, like the Harappan, which thrived for roughly 2,000 years near what is now India/Pakistan, but died out about 1,000 BC. We still can’t decipher their extant written language.

    Sic transit gloria mundi indeed!

  2. When I was in high school, a classmate received an award named after the school’s original band director.

    A couple of classmates thought I should have received the award, and were taken aback by the fact that I was neither hurt nor outraged. Not only did I think that the classmate was at least as deserving but more deserving than I – but I knew even then that within a couple of years, the names on the plaque wouldn’t matter at all to the school’s students. Cynthia B or Erik S…who the hell are they?

    Every once in a while my 17yo asks me how I felt about something or other when I was a student. I’m not sure that she entirely believes me when I say I just don’t remember – and really I don’t! because I graduated from HS 35 years ago – or that my perspective has changed, or that one’s time in HS is but a blip once one hits middle age.

    And needless to say my 170-lb self can’t remember being 120 lbs….

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