photo by Charles Edward Case

Let me not lose my dream, e’en though I scan the veil
     with eyes unseeing through their glaze of tears,
Let me not falter, though the rungs of fortune perish
     as I fare above the tumult, praying purer air,
Let me not lose the vision, gird me, Powers that toss
     the worlds, I pray!
Hold me, and guard, lest anguish tear my dreams away!
                                        — Georgia Douglas Johnson, 1922

Poet Georgia Douglas Johnson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in the late 19th century. She was a member of the Harlem Renaissance and wrote a few volumes of poetry published in the early 20th. Her work above, titled “Let Me Not Lose My Dream,” was originally published in Bronze: A Book of Verse in 1922.

This poem might seem a bit dour for consideration five days before Christmas. After all, we have been through apocalyptic prophecies, John’s imprisonment, Mary’s shocking change of circumstances and Joseph’s dream-induced change of heart. Isn’t it time to move from preparation to celebration? From anguish to joy?

Yes, and yes. And it all happens even as dreams are challenged and suffering persists. Our cry today is the same as the cry of those who were present and participating in the Nativity, all who have prayed for deliverance from pain and injustice since. Our dreams of a world that beats in time with God’s heart face daily macro and micro threats. Our prayer to know God’s Incarnation in the Christ child is a prayer to awake; to hold fast and keep watch, by God’s grace to tend a compassionate vision for a transformed world.

I look forward to celebrating God’s response to that prayer at Christmas with all of you.