If you’re not approaching, I hope at least
You’re off to comfort someone who needs you more,
Not lost wandering aimlessly
Or drawn to the shelter of well-lit rooms
Where people assume you’ve arrived already.
If you’re coming this way, send me the details—
The name of the ship, the port it leaves from—
So I can be down on the dock to help you
Unload your valises, your trunks and boxes
And stow them in the big van I’ll have rented.
I’d like this to be no weekend stay
Where a single change of clothes is sufficient.
Bring clothes for all seasons, enough to fill a closet;
And instead of a single book for the bedside table
Bring boxes of all your favorites.
I’ll be eager to clear half my shelves to make room,
Eager to read any titles you recommend.
If we’ve many in common, feel free to suggest
They prove my disposition isn’t to blame
For your long absence, just some problems of attitude,
A few bad habits you’ll help me set to one side.
We can start at dinner, which you’re welcome
To cook for us while I sweep and straighten
And set the table. Then light the candles
You’ve brought from afar for the occasion.
Light them and fill the room I supposed I knew
With a glow that shows me I was mistaken.
Then help me decide if I’m still the person I was
Or someone else, someone who always believed in you
And imagined no good reasons for your delay.
Now this isn’t some kind of cry for help. I’ve had this poem stashed away, waiting for a good Wednesday, and I had no other poems for today, so here you have it. But it occurs to me that I’m not really after happiness. I’m after joy.
Happiness is fleeting and flighty. One day you have her, the next you exchange words and she huffs out of the house, staying gone for far too long. I’d rather have joy settle in and become part of the furniture. Always there.
To say I am after joy implies that she is not here. Oh, she’s here. In the busyness and stresses and messes of life I forget to be happy all too often, but underneath, holding us all up, there is joy. There was joy when we celebrated Pascha with our Orthodox friends. Yes, I thought, when we did that third? fourth? hundredth? endless singing of “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death…” Yes. This is joy. Christ is risen and He is risen indeed. Joy.
There is joy when the husband walks in after a long day. Seeing his face come through the door wipes away my worries and frustrations, I forget why I was so irritated moments before. Oh don’t worry, I will remember. But underneath everything there is joy. Knowing we are traveling through life together brings deep joy and contentment.
There is joy in my silly kiddos, in their antics. I complain, but there is the always an undercurrent of joy. What would I do without them? Who would I be?
Of course I will sweep and tidy for happiness, but I will furnish a room for joy.