Bare Abundance


My sorrow’s flower was so small a joy
It took a winter seeing to see it as such.
Numb, unsteady, stunned at all the evidence
Of winter’s blind imperative to destroy,
I looked up, and saw the bare abundance
Of a tree whose every limb was lit and fraught with snow.
What I was seeing then I did not quite know
But knew that one mite more would have been too much.
~Christian Wiman from Once in the West: Poems


Our weakest branch strains to bear
summer’s bounty without breaking –
too soon comes winter’s heavy burden –
such pruning sorrow leaves us gaping,
allowing the strongest to remain to fruit.




2 thoughts on “Bare Abundance

  1. Exquisite. Painful, Achingly realistic. Wiman’s metaphor for our sometimes crushing brokenness and the ability to handle it is superb.

    Finally, though, in the last sentence here, Emily, you reassure us about the reason for the necessary ‘surgery’ required to achieve the final outcome: “…pruning sorrow…allowing the strongest to…remain to fruit.”
    Thank you for that encouraging insight.

    True, we cannot yet see the final outcome and the result that God intends for the surgery as we travel blindly through the tunnel of agonizing pain and unknowing. That is why He gives us hope and His Presence through the gift of His Grace to sustain us through it all.

    Am thinking here of an old adage (proverb?) about God not sending us more grief and hardship than we can handle. I think that the description given here today goes far beyond that simplistic attempt to understand human suffering.


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