Teach Me to Love

by Louise Knight Wheatley

(from The Christian Science Journal, October, 1908, Vol 26, page 408)

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!"

How blind we are, until Thy shepard's rod

Of tender chastening gently leads us on

To better things!

Today 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.

My one desire now --Teach me to love.

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Copyright 1997 Robert Nguyen Cramer