Pride and Prudence
By Jaime Fulton (2015)
When my life, ministry, and work become too much for me to bear
And I cry out in desperation for respite—
My flesh, weak and sullied, says this is too much;
I can’t keep going.
I complain that I have sacrificed so much
For “the cause,”
I turn to my Father and ask, “where’s my party?”
“Where’s my ‘welcome home’ celebration
That my wayward, prodigal siblings receive.”
Expecting rebuke, expecting silence.
He does neither.
He simply says, “my child,”
And I melt.
My stony heart softens, and I reach up
And take His hand.
This poem was inspired by George Herbert’s poem “The Collar.” I have taught this poem countless times to my seniors in AP English, but something about this poem struck a chord with me this year. I have been serving in different youth ministries since 2000, and I absolutely LOVE it! I enjoy working with teens and teaching them about literature and about what it means to live a life worthy of the Calling. But, there are those moments of fatigue. In those moments, I can go one of two ways: throw myself a giant pity party or simply cry out to God…or a little of both. As long as I can cry out to God, I know I can be renewed. Here is the poem that offers me comfort that I am not alone in my struggle. Sometimes that’s all we need. Just some reassurance that we are not the only ones who feel this or have felt this.
By George Herbert (1633)
I struck the board, and cried, “No more;
I will abroad!
What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free, free as the road,
Loose as the wind, as large as store.
Shall I be still in suit?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me blood, and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit?
Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it; there was corn
Before my tears did drown it.
Is the year only lost to me?
Have I no bays to crown it,
No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted?
Not so, my heart; but there is fruit,
And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage,
Thy rope of sands,
Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw,
And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
Away! take heed;
I will abroad.
Call in thy death’s-head there; tie up thy fears;
He that forbears
To suit and serve his need
Deserves his load.”
But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild
At every word,
Methought I heard one calling, Child!
And I replied My Lord.