. "He has made everything beautiful in its time. . ." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The sun shines so brightly on this verdant hill Where I sit in silence so peaceful and still; I've come here alone to survey the fair scene Spread out now before me, so fragrant and green. A balmy breeze blows here, so easy and free; The song of the lark and the buzz of the bee, The whispering grass and the coo of the dove Draws from my heart songs of thanksgiving and love. I love this place where I can rest for a while And look out and see, spanning many a mile, The wide earth outstretched and the path that I've trod That's brought me thus far by the mercy of God. Below lies a patchwork, so varied and bright, Where meadows and groves mingle shadow and light, And placid brooks gleam beneath cool, shady bowers Near fields full of glowing and graceful wildflowers. There sheep and cows graze on fresh clover and grass Beneath dreamy skies where the lazy clouds pass, And one lonely seagull keeps circling on high, In search of the sea with a sad, mewing cry. I see running hedgerows and hushed country lanes Where country maids walk in the eve with their swains Past humble thatched cottages, old water mills, Meandering footpaths that lead to the hills. All this I can see---yet I see so much more! Perched high on this hill, other scenes come before The eye of remembrance, as here I behold Dear faces appearing from sweet days of old. I see a child rising so high on a swing Together with friends whom he gladly would bring, Set free from the earth, on a mission to Mars--- Just look as in fancy they fly to the stars! I hear the child laugh as he skips down the road, A stranger to care and life’s heart-crushing load; I watch him drift off at the end of the day (For boyhood’s brief season must soon pass away). I see a youth sitting at twilight alone To watch the sun set, as the treetops, wind-blown, Speak quietly to his young heart, as the air Blows through his own soul, kindling reverence and prayer. I see him now filled with the pangs of first love That move him to tears like a sad mourning dove; I see his heart break and its blossom lie blighted By longings unmet and by love unrequited. I see the same man again, now somewhat older, Kiss gently the head resting on his broad shoulder; He grasps his wife’s hand, as into the hearth gazing, He gives thanks to God as they watch the fire blazing. I see him now, belly round, with his hair thinning With ear to ear smile, at the whole wide world grinning; He tears up then watching, with pride and elation, His “little girl” pass him at her graduation. I look once again, and I see down the lane An older man walking, his heart full of pain, He walks, shoulders drooping, world weary and worn, Exhausted and saddened by troubles he’s borne. He keeps drawing closer and starts up the hill, To find a fine perch, like a bird on a sill, From where he can look back across the long years And pour forth his sorrows and melt into tears. Dear man, how I know you! I share every sigh, The tears on your cheek, and your long wailing cry. I think of my childhood, my youth and my prime, And grieve every loss with the passage of time. I long to hold on to these beauties forever: The sweetness of childhood and youthful endeavor, The freshness of things when they’re newly discovered, The joy of adventure, rare treasures uncovered. The strength of young manhood that slowly is drained, As wisdom increases through life’s lessons gained; Oh, yes, my heart’s rent with deep wounds by time’s knife And bleeds for the briefness and losses of life! How beautiful, oh! but how heart-piercing, too, To see from this hilltop so poignant a view; To look back at days that can never return, So bright, yet so fleeting, like candles that burn. Oh, how can I put into words what I feel? An ache that persists like these church bells that peal Across the wide valley, so crisp and so clear, To count all the hours of the swift passing year. The solemn bells toll, and this message proclaim-- That nothing on earth will stay always the same; For change and decay are in all that we see. Earth’s beauties point upward---that’s where I would be. So now, youthful pilgrims, I bid you adieu! I’m heading up higher and hope to meet you When we reach the top, if you choose to ascend; I’ll look for you when we have both reached our end. Keep to the right path, and you’ll surely arrive, Where strength, love and beauty forever will thrive; God bless your life’s journey; your heart may He fill With thanks as you savor each view from the hill. . . Martin Rizley grew up in Oklahoma and in Texas, and has served in pastoral ministry both in the United States and in Europe. He is currently serving as the pastor of a small evangelical church in the city of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Martin has enjoyed writing and reading poetry as a hobby since his early youth.