I ask this much.

IMG_5657crp Tenaya

When I think of the possibility that I might go on living on the earth another two or three decades without my husband, it seems preposterous, like a steep mountain I’ve been asked to climb after my feet have been amputated. How could Anyone ask me to do such a thing?

The truth is, He isn’t asking me to climb a mountain, and I am not so crippled. I have enough strength to do what the next hour and day demand, and that isn’t actually very much. A mountain may in fact be there in front of me, and the road does lead upward, but what peak I will eventually reach is certainly unknown and unimportant.

As long as I keep to my usual fashion of delighting in every flower and singing bird along the path, and while I enjoy the company of the Sweetest Companion on my walk, the time will continue to fly by and life will be good. Yes, I feel weak, and I am going at a snail’s pace. Sometimes I just sit down on a rock and bawl for a while, but I do get up and put one foot after the other again.

And every day, I feel a great Love surrounding me, like the pleasant air that holds me and gives me oxygen even while I am having those pity parties. Or like the sun whose heat is keeping me alive and giving me energy. This poem was the catalyst that brought all of these truths together for me.

PRAYER at SUNRISE

O mighty, powerful, dark-dispelling sun,
Now thou art risen, and thy day begun.
How shrink the shrouding mists before thy face,
As up thou spring’st to thy diurnal race!
How darkness chases darkness to the west,
As shades of light on light rise radiant from thy crest!
For thee, great source of strength, emblem of might,
In hours of darkest gloom there is no night.
Thou shinest on though clouds hide thee from sight,
And through each break thou sendest down thy light.

O greater Maker of this Thy great sun,
Give me the strength this one day’s race to run,
Fill me with light, fill me with sun-like strength,
Fill me with joy to rob the day its length.
Light from within, light that will outward shine,
Strength to make strong some weaker heart than mine,
Joy to make glad each soul that feels its touch;
Great Father of the sun, I ask this much.

–James Weldon Johnson 1871-1938

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(Both photos are from Yosemite – upper one is Tenaya Lake.)

6 thoughts on “I ask this much.

  1. I took the time to read the poem/prayer aloud – beautiful, and made more meaningful to me by your thoughts. I prayed for strength and joy in this day for you.

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  2. I’ve gotten to the point where I simply explain to people to take no notice of the sudden burst of tears. I just can’t help it. I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon today and needed to make a decision about surgery. I didn’t have him there to lean on, I just started crying! So weird! Just tears, no sobbing, no anguish just plain weird.

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  3. What a lovely poem. Just like yourself. Grieve when you have to anyway you want to. I think reading how you feel helps me to understand the pain you are undergoing. I think your description is the best I have ever read. You know what I wish? I wish I could come and carry you up the mountain.
    Here is a giant hug O because I am here so far away.

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  4. Some years ago my MIL, who was also my neighbor, became very ill, and I knew I would do much of the care-giving. I also had a large family to care for. When I looked at the Mountain, I became so overwhelmed and fearful of it, but then God showed me that I didn’t need to look at the mountain, but to just take one day at a time, one step at a time, looking at the path. I think about the Psalm which says: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” It’s the steps He lights for us, not the Mountain.

    I am so glad you are sharing your journey with us. We are on the path with you, Gretchen Joanna.

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  5. Oh dear friend, that image of the mountain to be climbed nearly breaks my heart. How can He ask that? I don’t know. But you are an obedient and loving daughter. And to try so hard not only to make it through, but as the poem says, to have light, and joy! “Fill me with joy to rob the day its length.” There are some days that just need to be OVER. It’s true. Sometimes it feels as if life itself needs to be over. May those days be fewer and fewer for you.

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