Before Winter

by Arthur Mampel

"Do your best to come before winter."

- Saint Paul

Wait with me awhile
when the air is cold
and the shadows are longer.
Wait with me through the harsh night,
when the soul is a dark figure
and the mood is lonely.
Come at an inconvenient hour,
just before you can,
when the calendar will not permit,
when your suddenness
will sway the balance of things.
But do not come when it suits you;
not when summer moves the beaches,
not when the season is mellow -
for then we shall likely trifle.
Convenience is seldom the right visit,
but we are made real by sacrifice.

From Silk Over Wood, (London, Toronto, Chicago: International Theological & Philosophical Library Press, 1981). By permission of the publisher. This poem was set to music by Minnesota composer Libby Larsen and sung by the Plymouth Congregational Chute Choir, Minneapolis in 1985.