Take heed, my child
For if they always praise you
One day they’ll pull their knives
To cut and slash and slay you.

If they speak honeyed words
And tend to condescend
Don’t believe what they say
Their hearts are a cold wind.

Never ever let yourself
Be put up on a pedestal
The tide can quickly turn
And you’ll end up The Great Infidel.

You’ve often heard it said,
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,”
For what appears attractive
May not love you like your father.

Do always beware
Of those who look so good
For when it comes to substance
Often they’re decayed wormwood.

If they draw their strength
From fluff and stuff about them
Be assured no light’s within
That can radiate from inside out of them.

If they only want to borrow
And never care to lend
Then you’ll know when trouble comes
On them you must not depend.

Life is full of selfish takers
Few are those who love and give
Takers are miserable and dying
Givers have joy and light to live.

Take care and watch with whom
Folks spend their days, time and money
This will tell you who they are
If they’re to be trusted or if they’re cunning.

Steer clear of those obsessed
Who must at all cost win
For ruthless competition
Is a deadly sin.

Avoid like the proverbial plague
Those ruled by just their feelings
They justify anything in their dark hearts
Leaving your heart bruised and reeling.

Instead use truth to guide your mind
As you choose your life’s way
Then let your heart soften your path
As compassion leads day by day.

Cling to mentors with a vision
Those who have a long-term view
Making principled decisions
They know what’s right to do.

True fortunes don’t come easy
All that glitters is not gold
Hard work and service are what last
Wise men have long told us so.

Carefully choose your calling and your mate
These two decisions will mold your life’s fate
It’s not even a subject open to debate
Choosing either badly is a disastrous mistake.

Pick work for which you’re suited
Matching motivation and aptitude
Such will bring you re-creation
Work that’s drudgery makes you brood.

Pick a partner for your lifetime
With like interests, values and flow
Supporting and balancing each other
Is worth more than you’ll ever know.

Observe, too, carefully
Who you call your true friend
Mirroring each other
You two should stand through thick and thin.

Link up with those who cooperate
Who have abiding peace and quiet
Their friendship’s good as gold
For no price could you buy it.

If in your gut you feel a knot
And your breath begins to shorten
Pay notice to these clues
For there may be something rotten.

Life will give you subtle signals
And if you’ll only pay attention
Such will keep you out of trouble
Out of love all this I mention.

And if you always put God first
Do what’s good, honorable and just
Sunlight will follow your shadows
As spiritual gold is spun from dust.

© R.E. McMaster, Jr.
July 26, 1997