Tag Archives: James Weldon Johnson

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.


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




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