As long as the willow weeps
In the spring of the year
While the rest of creation
Buds anew and blooms with joy,
Yes, as long as she fills her languishing arms
With so many sorrows,
Sagging to the ground—
A tiny, vernal droplet
For each of the world’s woes—
Because Heaven knows—
Then I know that Heaven is near.
Because the willow sheds the tears that I cannot
Even if I try:
When my heart is deaf to the groans
Of those that hunger
And those that thirst,
When it’s closed to the stranger,
And cold to the shame
Of the naked that shiver,
Blind to the loneliness of the prisoner,
Prisoner in body and prisoner in spirit,
When my heart is numb to the heartache
Of a blessed virgin mother
Weeping for the death of her Son.
Yes, even then the willow weeps,
Sighing deeply to the rhythm of the wind,
Or the slow, shallow breaths of a man dying
For all those who ever sinned.
And what for?
For as surely as the willow knows
Not much will last into the Earth made new,
Not much will still be green
When the fires of Armageddon have cooled,
When the Romes and Babylons have crumbled,
When the proud have stumbled,
And the powerful have been humbled,
Then, there won’t be much to see,
And neither will the plans of the wicked thenceforth be,
The idols in all their figures and forms
And the weeds
…But the willow will.
On that day,
They say that every tear shall be wiped away,
But where will they all go?
Indeed, the Earth could drown
In forty days and forty night’s worth of tears
Shed through so many endless, fallen years.
But I am reminded
In the spring of the year
That adorned will be the willow tree
For all to see,
Yes, there all those many tears will be,
Filling her delicate, burdened arms.
Ah, the dignity of that dear tree.
Much ill has been wrought through her kin,
Through a tree,
Curse entered the world,
And on a tree,
One was cursed on behalf of the world,
Yet I am certain that from a tree,
So too shall its healing be.
For you see,
In that Earth made new
I hear there is a tree,
—A tree of life
Growing up beside a river crystal clear
And bathed in the majesty
Of the Most High’s most radiant light—
And I hear that the leaves of the tree
Are for the healing of the nations.
But with scars etched so deep
In the dust of the Earth
And the memory of our souls,
How can this be?
And what kind of tree?
Well, I’m not one to trust a physician
Who doesn’t know something of illness,
And I’m not one to trust a Great Physician
Who doesn’t know something
Of pain and wounds and death,
And I’m not one to trust a healing tree
Which doesn’t know something
Of sorrows more abundant
Than the many droplets that make up the sea
And which cannot feel for me,
So, I know that the tree of life
Which brings healing to the nations
Must be a willow tree,
Ever weeping the tears
That will no longer speckle my face
In that glorious, most heavenly place.
Jay Bilsborrow is the Program Coordinator for The Washington Institute and one of the Capital Fellows at McLean Presbyterian Church.