A Prayer on the Night Before Easter

MY GOD, Whose law I believe in, and have signed to serve in my best,
My voice comes strange to You, and new, and never raised before.
This is the new time, and I have a first prayer to make, addressed
Not so much in jubilation as in need, as the newcomer asks more.
Make my mother’s dying easy and soon, and make my son’s growing
Long. Give my wife her child. Allow me years enough. And gather
Under Your care those I believe You love as I do, not much showing
Love, except in the unspoken ways of being and of coming together.
Heal our illnesses which we have brought upon ourselves. Help us.
I myself have evaded punishment, and have been subtle, and secret.
Lord, do justly what heat, weight, and water do, and star-rise.
Hear me. My beloved trust my trust in You, that You never forget.
I ask too much, stirred who should be stilled by this holiday.
What a beggar! I burst out with my troubles and my crowded love,
Trying to say everything at once. But I was never taught to pray.
Forgive me, and let me help You remember those I am thinking of.
Prisoners of war, the war far away and brutal, or the war near,
Silent and terrible and complicated and within, where wars begin.
I would like to know You know. I think always of someone somewhere
Who cries out to me, and You, and may not be heard, and cries again.
And those with no words, all those with no lucky skill, and no luck.
The twisted. The trapped in small anxieties. The girl with no face
A man will look at. The man who can work, and can find no work.
Lord, think with me, think with me, as I reach to You from this place.
My wife carrying our child. I said that. All those separated.
All those who wait. Those, too, who rule themselves, or else rule.
Those leading the way through workings of the law, and those led.
Those lost. The very young. The very old. But I know You know them all.
For my kind of selfishness, thank You, that I have been let be
This busy unadmirable, this persistent unruly, this same me.
But I will not cancel myself in Your eyes. I must be here.
I must be. And as I can, and with Your consent, I must care.
Thank You for the example of great men to men less known,
And somehow let them know that they stand, and they stand up.
I mean, too, the quiet artists, and doctors, men on their own
Working. Put Your hand under them, that they may not stop,
That they may not fall, that like the force of gravity, You,
Whose hand is under us all, will balance and bear us. And keep
Oh kitchen-and-wood-smell ours, and all we hardly know we do,
And keep for us, those of us who need it, sleep, and sleep.