Ode to the Joyful Ones
“Shield your joyful ones.”
—from an Anglican prayer
“That they walk, even stumble, among us is reason
to praise them, or protect them—even the sound
of a lead slug dropped on a lead plate, even that, for them,
is music. Because they bring laughter’s
brief amnesia. Because they stand,
talking, taking pleasure in others,
with their hands on the shoulders of strangers
and the shoulders of each other.
Because you don’t have to tell them to walk toward the light.
Because if there are two pork chops
they will serve you the better one.
Because they will give you the crutch off their backs.
Because when there are two of them together
their shining fills the room.
Because you don’t have to tell them to walk toward the light.”
Thomas Lux from To the Left of Time. © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.
I know these people. I have worked with them. I live with them. I go to the symphony with them. I go to church with them. I receive a phone call from them every morning on their way to work. I serve with them. I especially find them at one place I never suspected, at our church’s weekly Food Pantry. They are not only the joyful people who serve there, but they are the people who come once a month for food. That is why I selfishly go, not necessarily to offer light, but to receive it, especially from the African Americans who come. I sit and ask them how they are doing. “ I am blessed,” is their response. They bring each other to the Food Pantry and talk about how they are going to share the meals together. They share openly stories of how God has been working in their lives, caring for them. They have never met a stranger. They ask us how we are doing since we last met. Their voices echo laughter. They ask for prayers for other family members. They are teaching us how to live.