To My Father

On His 86th Birthday

Dear Pilgrim, waiting patiently,
The long, long journey nearly done,
Beside the sacred stream that flows
Clear shining in the western sun;
Look backward on the varied road
Your steadfast feet have trod,
From youth to age, through weal and woe,
Climbing forever nearer God.

Mountain and valley lie behind;
The slough is crossed, the wicket passed;
Doubt and despair, sorrow and sin,
Giant and fiend, conquered at last.
Neglect is changed to honor now;
The heavy cross may be laid down;
The white head wins and wears at length
The prophet's, not the martyr's crown.

Greatheart and Faithful gone before,
Brave Christiana, Mercy sweet,
Are Shining Ones who stand and wait
The weary wanderer to greet.
Patience and Love his handmaids are,
And till time brings release,
Christian may rest in that bright room
Whose windows open to the east.

The staff set by, the sandals off,
Still pondering the precious scroll,
Serene and strong, he waits the call
That frees and wings a happy soul.
Then, beautiful as when it lured
The boy's aspiring eyes,
Before the pilgrim's longing sight
Shall the Celestial City rise.
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