There was a time when in my daily prayer
I asked for all the things I deemed most fair,
And necessary to my life,—success,
Riches, of course, and ease, and happiness;
A host of friends, a home without alloy;
A primrose path of luxury and joy,
Social distinction, and enough of fame
To leave behind a well-remembered name.
Ambition ruled my life. I longed to do
Great things, that all my little world might view
And whisper, "Wonderful!"
Ah, patient God,
How blind we are, until Thy shepherd's rod
Of tender chastening gently leads us on
To better things! To-day I have but one
Petition, Lord—Teach me to love. Indeed,
It is my greatest and my only need —
Teach me to love, not those who first love me,
But all the world, with that rare purity
Of broad, outreaching thought which bears no trace
Of earthly taint, but holds in its embrace
Humanity, and only seems to see
The good in all, reflected, Lord, from Thee.
And teach me, Father, how to love the most
Those who most stand in need of love— that host
Of people who are sick and poor and bad,
Whose tired faces show their lives are sad,
Who toil along the road with footsteps slow,
And hearts more heavy than the world can know—
People whom others pass discreetly by,
Or fail to hear the pleading of that cry
For help, amid the tumult of the crowd;
Whose very anguish makes them cold and proud,
Resentful, stubborn, bitter in their grief—
I want to bring them comfort and relief,
To put my hand in theirs, and at their side
Walk softly on, a faithful, fearless guide.
O Saviour, thou the Christ, Truth, ever near,
Help me to feel these sad ones doubly dear
Because they need so much! Help me to seek
And find that which they thought was lost; to speak
Such words of cheer that as we pass along
The wilderness shall blossom into song.
Ah, Love divine, how empty was that prayer
Of other days! That which was once so fair,—
Those flimsy baubles which the world calls joys
Are nothing to me now but broken toys,
Outlived, outgrown. I thank Thee that I know
Those much-desired dreams of long ago,
Like butterflies, have had their summer's day
Of brief enchantment, and have gone. I pray
For better things.
Thou knowest, God above,
My one desire now—Teach me to love.