Keep Easter in Eastertide

Originally published at Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Happy Easter! Christ is risen, alleluia!

Does this time still feel like Easter? Hopefully Sunday Mass, at least, still does. Yet outside of that weekly hour, how often do we remember what season we are in? Many Catholics have prepared fervently for this holy time during the six weeks of Lent, giving up their favorite foods or activities, adding various solemn devotions, finding ways to help the needy and suffering. On the other hand, once the Easter season arrives, it often ends up neglected. After Divine Mercy Sunday, it’s easy to forget that a holy season is still going on.

To some degree, this imbalance is understandable. The need for Lenten penance, for a season of cleansing and purification, is obvious enough; our souls need Lent much as our bodies need medicine or exercise. On the other hand, the Easter season, a time of celebration — is that as spiritually necessary for us?

If the practice of Easter joy were simply about returning to chocolate, coffee, Facebook, or whatever we gave up for Lent, the answer would clearly be no. Note the emphasis on practice: We know why we celebrate Easter (the Resurrection of Jesus); but what does that celebration look like in practical terms? Does it do something important for us?

First, on the question of importance. The short answer, as best I can discern it, is that Jesus’s Resurrection is what changes everything for us, the reason we live in hope and are freed from our sins;(1.) therefore, the remembrance of that transforming event must also be an important part of our liturgical and spiritual lives.

Regarding this preeminence of Easter, the Church leaves no doubt. She proclaims clearly that Easter is the greatest of holy days, the climax of the year, as Christ’s Resurrection is the climax of history:

Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities,” just as the Eucharist is the “Sacrament of sacraments” (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter “the Great Sunday” and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week “the Great Week.” The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him. (CCC §1169)

This last line indicates why the Resurrection is the high point: Jesus has “crushed death.” He has taken our poor nature and raised it to a new, immortal glory; he is our new Adam, and “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). As humanity, and all of creation, fell with the first Adam, with the new Adam they are lifted up and redeemed. The transforming effect of the Resurrection on the whole world is further detailed in the lyrics of the Exsultet, the great chant of the Easter Vigil Mass on the night of Holy Saturday:

The sanctifying power of this night

dispels wickedness, washes faults away,

restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,

drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.

In addition, the sheer length of the Easter season speaks to the importance of the celebration; the glory of the great day trails on like a comet’s tail for an octave after Easter Sunday, and the entire season is seven weeks, the longest in the liturgical calendar. For that matter, the length of the Lenten preparation, significantly longer even than the weeks of Advent that precede Christmas, also attests to the importance of Easter. The whole purpose of these six weeks of penance has been to prepare our hearts to properly receive the splendor of the Resurrection.

A joy of such magnitude and significance calls for some sort of outward expression. The active celebration of great events is an essential part of human life: birthday parties, graduations, wedding receptions, etc. We recognize and express our joy by means of ceremony, so much so that to omit the festivity, assuming it can be had, often suggests some indifference or disrespect. We would all pity a child who never got a birthday cake, not so much for the sake of the cake as because, evidently, this child had grown up either in grinding poverty or with parents who didn’t care enough to acknowledge his or her birthday. The cake is a means for the family to say, essentially, “How wonderful that you were born, that you exist!” The same principle is at work in every celebration: We recognize the importance of the event, and respond to it, by means of some outward sign.(2.)

This need to celebrate is all the greater for us Christians, bearers of the “good news of a great joy which will come to all the people” (Luke 2:10). We are entrusted with the gospel, “good news,” that the Lord has conquered death and the world has been redeemed, the shining truth that can never be eclipsed by all the evils that plague us. This does not mean that we don’t also suffer and sorrow, but that sorrow, along with everything else, is transfigured for us. One powerful help for that transfiguration is to participate wholeheartedly in the Church’s times of rejoicing and contemplate what they mean.

This practice of holy joy may be all the more vital for Christians today, since our present world’s atmosphere is so marked by anxiety and pessimism. The doom-and-gloom nature of daily news reports has become proverbial. Even among those who know the Gospel well, the temptation to sink into attitudes of despondency, apathy, or bitterness can become strong. If we become preoccupied with these, we can lose sight of the light that is our Lord, like St. Peter turning from Jesus to the windblown sea and sinking in it. Renewing our joyful hope in the risen Christ is a spiritual tonic against such tendencies. He wants to give each of us the same flame of love and confidence that He kindled in the hearts of Mary Magdalene and the apostles, to illumine our lives and spread through us to others.

So the celebration of Easter is important; what about the other question, the concrete practice of that celebration? How, specifically, can we live this holy joy? Undoubtedly there are as many ways of living the spiritual life as there are people who practice faith. What follow are some suggestions from what I have found helpful over the years.

The heart of any liturgical season is the Mass. Daily Mass, often advocated for Lent, is an excellent way to absorb the spirit of any holy time, including Easter. It’s at the Mass that the Church speaks most to her children, that the Scriptures of each day are heard, that the prayers reflect the themes of the season. Little phrases exude the spirit of Easter; I always find myself struck by the repetition of “overcome with paschal joy” just before the Sanctus.

If you’re not able to attend Mass during the week, perhaps you can still follow the prayers and readings at home. Some handy cellphone apps have been developed for this purpose. The Liturgy of the Hours is also an effective way to incorporate the season into one’s prayer life. The “hours” ring with alleluias during the seven weeks of Easter. Lauds, or morning prayer, typically takes about fifteen minutes; Compline, or night prayer, as little as ten. Apps are also available for these prayers (e.g. iBreviary).

If you pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, consider a very small addition. (There are already so many pious extensions to this prayer; if Our Lord and St. Faustina don’t mind these, they’re not likely to mind one more.) This one adds three words to the first half of the ejaculation: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion and glorious Resurrection, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” This practice has been particularly helpful for me when praying the Divine Mercy novena over the Easter Octave.

Find the way of bringing Easter into your prayer life that fits you best, whether meditating on Scriptures or other texts, singing hymns, just reflecting in quiet, or whatever it may be. Even simply taking a few minutes to pray a decade of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary can enhance the light of the Resurrection in our minds and hearts.

Sensory aids can also make a great difference, as Catholic tradition has often emphasized. If you can, find an icon or other image of the risen Christ, and put it in your place of prayer or some prominent spot. If you like to decorate, you may enjoy keeping a candle or even flowers by the image. Other displays in the home can also make a difference, just as we put up a Nativity set and lights at Christmastime. Growing up, my siblings and I looked forward to having the table decked all through Easter with a set of little figures — the three women, two apostles, an angel, and Jesus standing before an empty tomb — along with an assortment of glass eggs, and hanging above them, a trio of colorful, egg-shaped Japanese lanterns! The point is not that one must go to great lengths, but that tangible signs seen daily can remind us that we are in a sacred time of joy, and move us to give thanks to our Lord.

Another kind of tangible sign, and one that’s more accessible now than ever, is music. After the deep, somber quiet of Lent and Triduum, Easter is a time of song. A good deal of music has been written, in both sacred and popular styles, that celebrates the Resurrection in one way or another and can help lift our spirits into the season’s joy.

Immersing ourselves in this spirit of holy rejoicing naturally flows out into efforts to share this joy with those around us, particularly those who are in some special need, the lonely, discouraged, or other suffering souls. Not that we are obliged to be all smiles everywhere — indeed, in some contexts that would be counterproductive — but the more we absorb this perspective of hope and joy, the hope and joy that can never be taken away, the more we can gently and lovingly share that understanding. Christ knows all the griefs and evils we face. He came and faced them too; He endured them all in His life and death; and He has conquered them in His Resurrection. This is the consolation of Easter, the consolation that we receive from Him and offer to each other and the world.

A simple, practical starting point might be to make a habit, when tempted to discouragement over troubles of any kind, to remember the all-conquering power of the risen Lord and pray, “Jesus, I trust in You.” We may not be able to feel the prayer at the time it’s made; it may be only a sheer act of will. He understands that. The disposition, the choice, is what matters in the end; and the repetition of that choice — which is, after all, a response to His grace calling and helping us — will bring change and growth in us, even if we don’t see it. What better time than Easter to focus on learning this lesson of hope and trust, trust in Him who told His disciples, “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 28:10); “Peace be with you” (John 20:19); and “Do not be faithless, but believing” (John 20:27)?

We have passed through the desert of Lent, learning to detach our hearts from all sorts of things that don’t ultimately bring joy. Now we are in the spring garden of Easter. It’s time to discover — or rather, rediscover, a constant process — the One Who does bring joy, and rejoice in Him with all our hearts.

1. See 1 Corinthians 15:17, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” For more on this line of thought, see my article “The Necessity of the Resurrection,”

2. I would be remiss not to credit Thomas Howard’s Chance or the Dance for this line of thought.

Christian Joy and Human Sadness

Originally published at Homiletic & Pastoral Review

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). This and other exhortations in Scripture have shaped Christian tradition with the understanding that joy is meant to be part of our life. It’s traditionally counted among the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22, CCC #1832). Spiritual writers have often commented on its importance, including Pope Benedict XVI, who called it “a fundamental distinguishing characteristic of Christians.”(1.) Indeed, since Christ Himself prayed “that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13), we might infer that joy is part of what He wills to give us.

But what does this joy mean in practice? What is it like, and how does it relate to times of suffering? Some homilies on Christian joy, no doubt preached with good intentions, can give the impression that if we pray, have faith, and generally keep a proper disposition toward God, we will always be serene and cheerful and radiate our happiness to the world. An otherwise lovely hymn, “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,” reasons along these lines:

If our love were but more simple,

We should take Him at His word,

And our lives would be all sunshine

In the sweetness of our Lord.

If we don’t sense intuitively that this is asking too much of human nature, we’re likely to find out by experience. Even the most upbeat of personalities feel sadness at times, and not everyone is made with an upbeat personality. The idea that a Christian’s life must “be all sunshine” can also lead to insensitive treatment of the suffering; it would be callous to tell someone overwhelmed with grief, anxiety, illness, etc. that if they would only pray and have faith, everything would be fine.

Furthermore, we have reason from the Gospels to think that our Lord doesn’t ask continual lightheartedness from us. He blesses those who mourn and promises them consolation (Matthew 5:4), but doesn’t tell them to cheer up. He shows the human pains of His own heart, too, shedding tears at the tomb of His friend (John 11:35) and sweating an agony of blood before His Passion (Luke 22:44). If Jesus wept and trembled in times of suffering, His followers could hardly be reproached for not smiling at such times.

What, then, does joy mean as a part of the Christian life? While I am not a moral theologian, some thoughts in Scripture and other sources have shed light for me on the subject, and I hope they may do the same for others.

I think the first thing to understand is that God does not require feelings from us. We may sometimes be able to encourage or discourage them, but we can’t hold on to any feeling for long. Thus, if we can resolve to do something or exhort others to do it, it must be more than having an emotion. As C.S. Lewis observes, “A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.”(2.)

The context of Lewis’s remark is a discussion of the love that couples promise each other, and indeed married love may be a good analogy. We speak of a husband and wife having a “happy marriage,” but we know this doesn’t mean they live in a continual state of romantic passion. It means that their relationship is (overall) wholesome and healthy, that they live their self-gift for each other in their little daily habits. It is “a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.”(3.) They don’t, or need not, cease to have a happy marriage when they feel frustrated with life or with each other.

Christian joy could be compared with this happy marriage. It’s not a state of ecstasy or excitement, though it may lead to moments of that, and those too are gifts from God. Certainly holiness is no guarantee of cheerful or tranquil feelings. One can easily find examples of saints with not-so-sunny temperaments — the melancholy Augustine, the stormy Jerome — or who spent long years, even to the end, in all kinds of terrible suffering; and, as any human being would, found it hard. St. Thérèse of Lisieux, dying of tuberculosis and unable to feel God’s presence, admitted that “it is pure agony; there is no consolation!”(4.)

Rather, the joy that is “a fundamental distinguishing characteristic of Christians” is a supernatural kind of joy. Not supernatural joy in the sense of being extraordinary in degree, like the Beatific Vision, but supernatural in kind. “Not as the world gives do I give to you,” Jesus told His apostles (John 14:27). Like the other fruits of the Holy Spirit, it’s something enduring, and can even coexist with intense suffering and pain. This joy is also not one we can “work up” by our own efforts, without the help of grace. The Catechism calls the fruits of the Spirit “perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory” (CCC #1832). Thus, we need to pray to have this joy in ourselves, trusting in God Who knows our weakness.

What kind of joy is this, then, that’s not emotional and doesn’t preclude pain and sorrow? Like married love, it’s a disposition, a habit of mind and heart, one we learn to live in. It comes from an understanding of what our Lord has done and continues to do for us. Of course we still have sorrows, in this “vale of tears”; yet, in the words of St. Paul, we don’t “grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Note that he does not urge his converts not to grieve, but not to grieve like those who have no hope.

Here, then, is the great difference. Suffering for a Christian is not the same. We have been given an assurance, enduring and transcending even the worst of trials on earth — loss of family, loss of health, uncertain future, the wounds we’ve all suffered since early 2020 —with the certainty that they have already been confronted, and overcome, in the incarnation, dying, and rising of Jesus. St. Paul tells the Thessalonians in the very next verse: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” The death and resurrection of Jesus are the answer, not only to the riddle of death, but in one way or another to all the darkness that surrounds us.

We haven’t been given all the immediate answers. We don’t know how any particular situation will unfold. The joyous assurance of Christian faith is not that troubles won’t come, but that the gracious power of our Lord is greater than all of them, that He has already won His victory over all evil and in time that victory will be fully manifested.

J.R.R. Tolkien had an insight into how this is so when he set forth his concept of “eucatastrophe.” How this term coined for literary purposes became linked with Christian faith and hope might appear a greater stretch at first than it turns out to be. Tolkien introduced the word when explaining how the happy-ending twist resolving a “fairy-story” may do more than settle the conflict. It can be such an unexpected, miraculous, salvific moment of joy that it takes on a poignant power and points toward a great ultimate hope. It “reflects a glory backwards”(5.) over all the preceding events, giving them new meaning. Loss and tragedy, Tolkien explained, do not make the “eucatastrophe” any less valid:

It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.(6.)

It is possible, then, to grieve as is natural or appropriate and yet also hold on to a joy that we know to be true even amid that sadness.

As the reference to “evangelium” suggests, the concept of eucatastrophe does not apply only to fiction; in fact, it can be applied supremely to history, specifically salvation history. Tolkien goes on to say, “The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation.” What more unexpected, miraculous deliverance could there be than God Himself coming into our midst to take on all the burden of our evil and misery? What more impossibly glorious climax could that story have than the Incarnate Lord breaking the chains of death, opening the doors to a renewed life for Himself and for all of us?

It’s with good reason that Mother Church continually reminds us of these mysteries at Mass and encourages us to reflect on them in the Rosary. These truths are the basis of characteristically Christian joy. They don’t take away suffering nor prevent sadness, but they do transfigure our experience, often in small ways that we might not always perceive, like an atmosphere we breathe. Through grace and our cooperation with it, we come to see things differently, in the joyful light of the Redemption.

For example, St. Edith Stein, while still an atheist, made a visit to a Christian friend whose husband had died, and was struck by how her friend bore her loss, her sorrow mitigated by a deep, mysterious strength. This encounter was a revelation for Edith, and an important step toward her eventual conversion. The future saint later recalled, “For the first time I saw before my very eyes the Church, born of Christ’s redemptive suffering, victorious over the sting of death.”(7.)

But we shouldn’t become impatient with ourselves if we don’t notice such a change in our own hearts overnight. The process of sanctification goes on all our lives, and usually, it would seem, without the soul knowing what’s happening. Learning the disposition of Christian joy is no exception. It takes many moments of daily training, many little workings of grace, to really change our natural outlook to a supernatural one.

On the other hand, for any Christian soul, the seed has already been planted. We have the faith that carries with it the joy of the great eucatastrophe; we have the Holy Spirit, Who is ultimately the agent of all good change in us. We suffer and fight and carry our crosses, big or small; but all the while we know that we have reason — infinite reason — for joy. Like a beacon over a raging sea, it always shines for us; and by steering toward it even when we can hardly see it, we bear witness to its presence. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46–47).

1. Pope Benedict XVI, Address at the Grotto of Lourdes, Vatican Gardens, June 1 2012. Catholic News SG, accessed October 20 2021,

2. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins, 1952), 107.

3. Mere Christianity, 109.

4. St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, third edition, ed. John Clarke, O.C.D. (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1996), 269.

5. J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories,” in Tree and Leaf (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1989), 62.

6. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories,” 62.

7. Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D., Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, ed. Susanne Batzdorff, Josephine Koeppel, and John Sullivan (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 2005), 59–60. Quoted in Dianne Marie Traflet, Saint Edith Stein: A Spiritual Portrait (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2008), 41.

To Those I Knew

We’re told this life is like a storied mountain.

We’ve seen mountains steeped in mist.

In mist things emerge and fade,

shift and metamorphose.

Each scene of our climb is yielded

only for a minute.

And even we ourselves are not what we were,

nor what we will be.

It’s easy to grieve what’s left behind,

easy to fear what comes ahead,

lonely in this pocket in the mist.

Still one thing stays fixed —

a light-speck burning at the peak,

burning beyond the mist,

burning at the trail’s end.

It tells us the trail has an end.

There, from the summit,

we look for a different view.

There, in the light,

the climber can see the trail below

as he never saw it then.

There all the scattered things are brought together.

The mists obscure the burning speck,

yet can’t quench it,

can’t bar us from desiring it.

Hope is the end of the trail,

the summit where air is clear.

Hope is the light burning above the mist.

See you there.


The mighty tower of the cross
Will shatter all the brittle shell
Of thin, dim, transient skies,
And we, uplifted on it, see at last
Blazing through the breach
The pure, clear daylight of our royal home.
The candlelights of hope and faith,
So long safeguarded through the windy night,
Will dim away in beatific dawn.
All those lampposts of promise and doctrine,
Knife-bright in that deep mist,
Along with roving, whirling sparks
Of deepest sweet desire,
And fleeting flashes, blinding bursts,
Of glory understood—
Yes, all will meet within the Sun,
Be shown as faint glints of the Sun,
The Light whereon our eyes were made to gaze.
The heavy darknesses of pain,
That all but blot the sun from transient skies,
At long last will fall back for good and all,
No gleam, no respite, but the lasting morn.
Looking back, eyes filled with day,
Then will we see them all anew,
As shadows of the Tree of Life,
Long shadows that we followed to the dawning,
The living glow whence they were cast.
The chasms of space and time
Will all be filled, deep gashes healed,
By outpour of divine infinity,
Nevermore to sever us.
The sundered islands of our hearts
Will join in the celestial continent,
Upon the bedrock of the Triune love.
There never can love’s starry flame
Be poisoned with earth’s fumes,
Never will we need fear its leaping light.
For all our love-lights will be taken up
Into a joyous whirling galaxy,
The dance of glory round the radiant throne.
But who could tell it true?
What thought below could grasp it—
a baby’s hand might sooner grip the sea—
that breaking morn that is the very Light,
When the finite is overflowed by Infinite,
When the beloved’s united with her Lover,
Whose love, beamed on her through creation’s screen,
Now breaks on her undimmed!
What idle dreaming!” I hear the world say.
“You waste your days gazing away at far, empty space.
It’s here, it’s now that matters!”
Here, now, what shall we do?
We’re all the shipmen of this vessel-earth.
Is she to sink into a cosmic sea,
Bearing our labors below?
Or has she a port, a port for us all,
Where all our sailor-craft is bound?
But when, dear Love, how long?
These swirls of misty rumors rouse my soul
To ask, oh, when will your bright day break at last?
I know—it’s true—a myriad of voices
Whisper kindly, accents all like yours:
It could begin right now.
Small though I am and frail,
Your mighty hand laid on me lifts me up
To love in labor what I’ll love in bliss,
To follow blinded as I will in light,
To learn the notes that make the living song,
To begin here, under transient skies,
The life of home.

The Coming of Gran Windstormer, Part II

View Part I

Part II: The Storm Breaking

She knew she could find her way to where the stone-spawn were. If she knew who her enemies were, she could find them. That had often been an immensely useful gift in the wars. Aia skimmed across dense mounds of treetops rocking in the wind, fields of tall grass that rippled under her, reeds by riverbanks where herons and geese glanced up at the strange human creature.

In the days when she was used to doing this, she would have done it easily and probably enjoyed it. It was not without some thrill now, but the effort quickly became a strain, and soon a painful one. Yet she forced herself to keep up at the same speed, knowing that if she reached her goal too late it would all have been for nothing. When she finally allowed herself to rest, amid some boulders near the edge of a ravine, it was because she knew, even without seeing it, that the stone-spawn were on the other side.

Read More

The Coming of Gran Windstormer, Part I

Part I: The Storm Brewing

The day of the great change came in autumn, when the green wooded mountains were beginning to burn with golden and orange and crimson, and the apples were hanging ripe, and the sunflowers were heavy laden with black seeds, and the wind grew strong again. The wind was strong that day, heaving the branches in waves, scattering bright leaves, strewing dirt and bits of plants up from Aia’s garden.

Aia wasn’t expecting a change that day, but she was wishing for one, as she pulled weeds out of the rows of carrots and squash and beans. Fiercely she tugged at the weeds, ripping out tough, thick roots with firm jerks. Old as she was, she was more than equal to the work—though this, she thought grimly, was a poor way for her to test her strength.

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The True Amazon

Our age, in all its folly, thinks

That she who chooses hearth and home life shrinks

From fullness of adventure, of life’s glory,

That hers is but a dull, short story.

But were the truth to once be seen,

Theyd hail her as a champion, a warrior queen.


Her kingdom may be small, but oh, its deep,

And so wild its keepers can take but little sleep.

Day by mad day, chaos’s flooding force

Into her realm presses its course;

With patient vigil and with shrewd stratagem

That tide she finds new ways to turn or stem.

Amid the pressing jungle, for the wild things

She raises a fair dwelling, and to it brings

All things needful. This castle she looks after

Armed with her mighty weapons, love and laughter.


Warriors of more renown, on fields of blood,

May fight for worthy ends, and maybe do some good,

And yet there’s sorrow in a trade

That must destroy so much that God has made.

But the queen of the hearth fights not as they;

Her tactics, toils, valor are not to slay

But to bring forth life, make it thrive and grow,

To lead the Wild Things the way they ought to go.


And though on this dim earth no man may know nor sing

Her labors, deeds, adventures, great heart unwavering,

In courts beyond, where every story will be known,

Shall angel-minstrels tell the tale of the queen of hearth and home.

Above the Storm

The rising, crashing waves of dark

Come rushing up around

The tiny island where we stand,

A scrap of battered ground.

Their brutal might tears round our feet,

A ravenous death-tide,

And everything that’s made of sand

Goes washing down the side.

Beset upon this barren rock,

A small and piteous sight,

Yet will we stand and never fear

The monstrous waves of night.

For all they thunder, thrash and rage,

And pound the stony beach,

The truest object of their hate

Is ever out of reach.

Above the waves, above the storm,

It ever shines the same,

And fills our eyes with certain light,

The blazing Easter flame.


The wind comes driving round our heads

And screaming in our ears

Of terror, pain, and emptiness—

All man’s heart hates and fears.

Its voiceless wails bid us give up

Our long and lonely stand

And go the same dark way as all

That’s only made of sand.

Though all but deafened by its blast,

Still if we heed, we hear

Another sound persistently

Pierce all the rush of fear.

‘Tis quieter, but stronger too,

And speaks of greater things,

Whose might and splendor yield naught

To all the tempest brings.

Above the wind, above the storm,

It rises clear and strong,

And fills our spirits’ inner ears,

The soaring Easter song.


O hearts that blow in brutal blasts

Or ride the roiling waves,

Come take your stand upon the rock

That still endures and saves!

Though fury of the floods and gale

May with no respite beat,

And though our tears fall bitterly,

Yet will our song be sweet.

Yes, and its sweetness will be sure,

For every storm must end,

And there is a shining sky above

Where all lights rise and blend.

And the Light of the shining sky above

Has taken on the night

And won a way for each and all

To shores with peace alight.

Above the shadows of the storm,

His glorious grace is poured,

His Presence changes everything—

The living Easter Lord!

An Approach to a Familiar Room

Originally published in Wonder magazine


The question as I near this door

Is, do I even dare

To enter past it any more,

When ghosts await me there?

Not such as rise from frozen fear

That heroes laugh to scorn,

Nay these, by wearing faces dear,

Draw blood with sorrow’s thorn.


My heart still thirsts in tired quest

For these beloved gone;

Shades born of longing promise rest

But leave me still alone.

Each day I see these visions of

Where it seems they should be,

Faces of those whom I still love,

And yearn again to see.


Ah ghosts of grief! how can it be

That joys so sweet and pure

Become, as living memory,

Most bitter to endure?

These shades of dear ones ne’er console,

Yet I can’t bid them fly,

For each one’s past bonds with his soul,

Love’s imprint does not die.


My God! this love is all from Thee,

Thy Spirit joined our hearts,

Let Him then all our comfort be

While distance still us parts!

Let Him who brought our bond to birth

Now keep it warm and strong,

Be our communion ‘cross the earth,

Be Thyself us among!


Keep me for them, and them for me,

And make our love, in small,

Thy mighty sun, bright Trinity,

Untouched and over all;

Lord, pain will ne’er us overwhelm

With ghosts of memory,

If in Thy single Heart we dwell

In sweet reality.


Now will I enter through this door,

Be mem’ry e’er so keen,

And should I weep there any more,
God’s light will intervene,

Illumining a landscape dim

To eyes of fleshly ken,

Where all God’s own are joined in Him

Who needs no where nor when.

Summer Night

Earth’s activity is stilled;
houses shut their curtained eyes;
men and beasts and birds in silence hide.
Day’s fire faded, all is soft and cool,
and the world’s colored in dark grays,
deep-water-blues, dim purples, and a bright silver,
earth submerged in a deep, serene sea.

No noise, save insects’ rasping harmony,
And then the wind flows in a light stream,
Bearing fragrance of blossom and leaf,
Turning grass to waves,
Setting leaves to ageless, quivering dance.
They whisper, whisper all the night,
repeating secrets, each to each,
in hidden tongues of mother earth.

Fireflies’ silent calls of light
fill shadows all around,
a storm of golden flash and glitter,
earth’s dark alive with wild, heavenly sparks.
And on high, in the heavens,
in the shadowed, solemn blue,
through gauze of clouds the glowing hosts
of brilliant stars in purest white
as lights of some empyrean realm
still veiled from mortal sight.

Enthroned among them in its radiance,
the moon floats o’er dim night,
to bring it some pale, cool portion
of the sun’s white glory,
a mirror of a day elsewhere.
This dream-light gleams o’er all the earth,
soft silver-white shimmer on field, tree, and wall,
all at rest in quiet and in gentle half-light.

Earth lies asleep, in a dream of heaven,
of a night that will not be dark,
but lovely as morning’s light.

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