Jan 1, 2017
In his Historia Anglorum, the 12th century English chronicler Henry of Huntingdon handed down the oft-repeated story of King Canute, the legendary Viking leader and 11th century King of England. Like individuals in authority in any age, he was continually being fawned over by those currying his favor. They praised him as the greatest monarch who had ever ruled. They extolled him as the mightiest man ever. They claimed that no one or anything would refuse to obey him. A man of common sense, he decided to expose the foolishness of their flattery.
One day, King Canute took his leading men and courtiers down to the sea. He ordered his chair to be placed at the edge of the water. There he sat and commanded the waves not to break upon the land or touch his clothing. But the sea did not obey. It crashed against the shore, disrespectfully drenching the very person of the king.
Jumping up, Canute exclaimed, "Let the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless. There is no king worthy of the name save him by whose will heaven, earth and sea obey eternal laws." Before the Almighty God, every creature in the universe is feeble. In God alone is all power. With a simple nod, he can level the towering pride and ambitions of any people, nation or person.
No one can tame the tide. The tide rises and falls. It ebbs and flows. In the same way, time itself follows its own inexorable law. The seconds fly, the minutes move and the hours pass. Time has its own course that cannot be stopped by human ingenuity. In his Prologue to the Clerk's Tale, Chaucer enshrined this truth in the proverb "Time and tide wait for no man."