The Reverend Allison Barrett

Loving the World with Words

Double Rainbow Nepal (2)

Say to the Darkness – a poem of hope

I wrote this at a time when a very dear heart of mine was diagnosed with what was understood at that time to be a terrible, terminal illness. (Thankfully that person still walks this earth!) I have returned to it and offered it over the years to many who were facing fear in the face of diagnoses, illness or even impending death. My husband taped it up beside his computer when he was sick and it seemed to find new meaning during the pandemic when we were all so uncertain, so frightened and so in need of hope.

My own experiences of facing the worst have made me stubbornly determined in the face of unimaginably bad news, loss or sorrow. I remember thinking very clearly when Peter was diagnosed “Cancer, you may have barged in my door, but you do not get a seat at my table!” We do not have the power to heal all sickness, fix every hurt or keep those we love with us forever. But we have more power than we think, to make Love and Joy the heart of how we live and what we remember.



Say to the darkness,

We beg to differ*

Say to the darkness

We will wait until you’ve had your fill

And then we will come out

Into the summer sunshine

And laugh and love again, and again and again

Say to the darkness,

We beg to differ

We are too beautiful

It is too precious

There are hours, days, years to be filled

With beauty, with love, with life

Say to the darkness,

We beg to differ

Even in our weakness

We will be stronger

We will laugh you away

We will giggle when you tell us

To be quiet and pay attention and take it seriously

Or, when we must

We will stay up with you all night

Nursing you like a sick child

Patiently waiting for streaks of dawn

To light the morning sky

We will lay a thousand candles at your feet

We will light up the night sky

We will tend the embers till morning

Say to the darkness,

We beg to differ

Love is on our side

We cannot lose.

*  The title of this poem is a tribute to a book written by Dr. Mary Jo Leddy