Last week, I listened to Elisabeth Elliot’s Gateway to Joy series about aging. In one episode titled Being Part of the Permanent, she quoted a stanza of a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier. The words so seized me, I had to stop and look them up.
The poem is titled My Birthday. Whittier was 64 when it was published, a significant age in the 1800s. Though all the poem is a touching look at an “older” birthday, the first few stanzas seem to me to apply also to a new year. We’re not so far from the beginning of this one, so perhaps they’ll speak to you as they did to me. The stanza Elisabeth quoted is at the end of what I am sharing here, but there are many more stanzas besides.
Beneath the moonlight and the snow
Lies dead my latest year;
The winter winds are wailing low
Its dirges in my ear.
I grieve not with the moaning wind
As if a loss befell;
Before me, even as behind,
God is, and all is well!
His light shines on me from above,
His low voice speaks within,–
The patience of immortal love
Outwearying mortal sin.
Not mindless of the growing years
Of care and loss and pain,
My eyes are wet with thankful tears
For blessings which remain.
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