I believe that when I pass through the doorway of death
And stand before you in the throne room of your judgment
You will ask of me only what you have asked of Peter.
But the question now will bear my name:
Do you love me, my beloved?
The deeds of my life will speak on my behalf.
They will whisper in disgrace
Or shout truth to the heavens
In a language that cannot lie.
I will crouch cowering alone in my selfishness
Or stand straightened, bravened by your sheep,
Lambs I have learned to feed and tend in love.
God Who Is Love, teach me to love,
Not a here-today, gone-tomorrow love,
But a love that will last the distance.
Not a gooey, sentimental, wear-it-on-your-heart-sleeve love,
But a love that will lead me to my cross and allow me
To stretch out my arms and there be stripped naked yet unafraid.
—J. Michael Sparough, SJ is a retreat director, playwright, and poet at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House,