I’m reading through the Dover Thrift Editions of Sonnets From The Portuguese and Other Poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and came across this poem.
All are not taken; there are left behind
Living Belovèds, tender looks to bring
And make the daylight still a happy thing,
And tender voices, to make soft the wind:
But if it were not so—if I could find
No love in all this world for comforting,
Nor any path but hollowly did ring
Where ‘dust to dust’ the love from life disjoined,
And if, before those sepulchres unmoving
I stood alone, (as some forsaken lamb
Goes bleating up the moors in weary dearth,)
Crying ‘Where are ye, O my loved and loving?’—
I know a Voice would sound, ‘Daughter, I AM.
Can I suffice for HEAVEN and not for earth?’
It’s about death and loss, and about God’s faithful presence. Though we lose people we love, there are still people around us who love us. But if that’s not the case, God loves us and is enough for us.
Approaching this year’s Valentine’s Day is feeling particularly hard. I can give you the single gal’s usual list of reasons why, but the truth is, I’m not sure why this year is harder than the rest. Why there’s a sting and why it’s a little more pointed. That’s why I’m loving this poem.
I could hear God telling me, “Daughter, I AM.”
Have you walked around a cemetery by yourself? I have. It was for a photography class. I went to a cemetery and there was not another single living soul around. Not even a caretaker. The clouds rolled in like it usually did in the valley. It couldn’t have been more lonely, somber, and a horrible condition for photography because there was no light. I left quickly. That day, I stood before unmoving sepulchres – some adorned with flowers, some faded and forgotten – and wanted, more than anything, to be loved whilst alive.
When the scene before us is dreary and lonely, full of loss and disappointment, the truth of God the Great I AM is like a fresh wind blowing life back to our very souls. Consolation here is comfort. It is solace. Browning reminds me that in the midst of love lost, love still lives and Love is still with us.
That’s what I’m clinging to in this season. God, the Great I AM, who IS Love.
That’s my prayer for you, too. If this month will remind you and make you feel the sting of loved ones passed away, loved ones who walked away, and loved ones that hasn’t arrived yet, I pray you cling to God, the Great I AM. God who IS Comfort. God who IS Love.