Do you have room in your life right now for delight? I am guessing not. I am guessing that your house is like mine, the rooms visited with unwelcome guests named "Despond," "Overstressed," and "Hopeless" every time you hear the news or talk to your neighbor or ask for prayer requests or open your email.
Yes, God wants us to make room for the sad and unwanted. He wants our proud hearts broken and brought low. He wants us to weep with those who weep (more on that here), but have we forgotten that he also wants us to "rejoice with those who rejoice"? And is it possible that if we give our attention only to what is shattered, we court and praise the devil?
It is possible. Here is rejoicing! And I invite you to rejoice with me.
I am rejoicing because this very week my Harvester Island Wilderness Workshoppers will be here with me at my fish camp island. And we shall face the sorrow of the world together. That is one reason I am rejoicing.
I can give you two thousand other reasons to rejoice, but instead I'm going to give you a poem. One poem that will help us find our way again to delight. It is the poem I will start the workshop with on our first night together.
(I don't care if you don't normally read poems. If you miss this one, you deserve to keep hosting your tragic unwelcome guests in all your spare rooms.)
Are you ready?
A Brief for the Defense
by Jack Gilbert
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.
There will be music despite everything. We must risk delight. Even in our temptation to despair, God provides a way of escape that we may be able to bear it, through
His own powerful Word,
you, me, one another, each gifts to the other,
the sound of oars in the water,
the clicking clack of the coming train that misses us
or howls and hoots us home
not with tragedy
Will you risk delight with me this week?? Spread the word!