Joy in the Narrow Way

Joy.
Spirit, you promised me joy!
And I know better than to pretend that
joy
stands alone,
but my heart is heavy in my chest.

Where will I go?
You, Lord, hold the words of life!
Joy emanates from you alone, like the rays of the sun.
As the moon has only borrowed light,
I have nothing that you do not give.

But where will I hide
from this heaviness?
In what refuge can I savor your joy,
curled around myself,
sheltered from pain?

Perhaps the price is too high,
the benefits too elusive.
But where will I go?
You, Lord, hold the words of life!
I have nothing that you do not give.

You look at me and love me,
Even as I seek my hiding place.
When I am spent from the searching,
Weary of wandering from cave to cave,
You sit shiva with me once again;
Homes surrendered,
Loved ones lost,
Children never known.

Together we are still
in the pain
hearts heavy in our chests.
And when the tears are gone,
you stroke my hair and tell me a story.

In my mind’s eye, I see him
Carpenter, oldest son, friend, brother, small town kid.
Called into his purpose by God within,
Walking into the wilderness to claim his story;
Surrendering the home that raised him,
Family who loved him,
Friends who followed him,
Even the life given him,
All for the joy set before him,
The unspeakable joy of the will of the Lord!

As we rise together, my heart is warmed by the nearness of your life,
The familiar humanness of your way.
My burdens are lightened by your own
Light and momentary troubles
As we share a story
Step by step,
Grief by grief,
Hope by hope.
The story of creation’s redemption,
Told in the arc of a life.

My feet are made sure by the path I follow,
Worn narrow but deep
By the steady stream of witnesses
Who have gone before.
A path marked out by the Father,
Prepared by the prophets,
Hallowed by Messiah,
Illuminated by the saints,
All speaking surely
Of the joy of the Lord!

Perhaps, Spirit, your promise is not for one season,
But for all seasons.
Not an experience to look back on,
But a foundation dug out.
Hope burrowing
Deeper and deeper,
Neck and neck with pain,
Until it is past the reach of sorrow
And becomes what you have set before me:
Joy, unexplainable
joy.

© 2018 Jacqueline Tisthammer. All Rights Reserved.

5 thoughts on “Joy in the Narrow Way

    1. Thank you Denise! This poem was part of my process of grieving loses from the last few years that I had just set aside to “deal with later”. I actually wrote it at the RCF retreat in April! Thanks for reading, it means a lot to me 😊

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  1. I am glad you have been able to take time to think through, pray through the losses. We do find joy even as we walk through the sadness, the disappointment, the pain. No one is immune from these which is perhaps why it resonates. Thanks for sharing.

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