They say that great poets should never have to explain their poetry. I’m exempt from this rule due to my not being a great poet. So, a little introduction to this poem. It was inspired by a recent pastoral visit where the person surprised me with a response she had never given before. Frankly, she rarely lets on to how she’s really feeling, no matter how much space I try to give for sharing. Her response opened out into a conversation of vulnerability and grace. As I was leaving, she said, “Thank you for listening to all that. I just carried on about my problems the whole time. But I do feel lighter”

The whole conversation and my subsequent reflections on it gave rise to this poem, which I hope conjures the shadow of the cross, recent troubling events that show the darkness that can still reside in the human heart, the coming eclipse to this part of the world on Monday, and the grace of Christ, who bears with us as we bear up. 

But, all this explanation notwithstanding, I pray you hear what you need to hear to bear up through these days. 

Bearing Up

“I’m bearing up,” she said, in response 

To my pastoral call. 


It is preferable, stylistically,

To carrying. 

It is better by far

Than lifting. 

It is – speaking just for myself –

More bearable

Than taking up. 

To bear it, shoulders collapsed by the

Sadness of it all,

Heart breaking open by the 

Violence within and without. 

To bear it

Until we come to the point

Not quite the breaking point,

But close – 

The sky darkens at noon

Over the God-forsaken one,

The midday stars proclaim

To all who are bearing up, and listening,

“My burden is light.”


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