The Gate of the Year
Ah yes, - The Gate of the Year. It seems like another year is about to dawn upon us. A brand new year. And all of us wonder what it will bring.
As in any year, we might expect to experience births and death, marriages and anniversaries, milestones that mark Life’s journey, the trek with family and friends, neighbours and – through social media at least, our world.
World events can frighten us. Things seem muddled and messed up. We have had disappointments; we continue to have many frustrations and fears.
And yet we have hope too. Strange as it may seem, we still think things could get better – despite appearances, despite what ‘they’ say, despite everything. True, not all of us are optimists in this way, but a lot of us are.
Some points of view and optimistic forecasts are born of faith – faith that knows the facts (or at least what one can know of them in our murky, through-a-glass-darkly times) but faith that persists in believing that the best is yet to come.
We have faith because we have placed it (or better said, ‘received it’) from Above, from another Source, from One who has - and continues to reveal Himself in Scripture just as God reveals God’s-Self to a large extent in Creation: in what God has wrought.
And yet . . . and so, it’s another Year. Our human distinctions and markers for time and space as we hurtle at unimaginable speeds, huddled together on this planet, out and on and into the vastness of inter-planetary and galaxy infinity.
We believe there is one who orders our lives, Who numbers our days, Who’s ways, though largely inscrutable, are born of love, though the One Who births them is all-power-full, all-knowing and always present, as well.
The Gateway of the Year . . . The poem was written as part of a collection entitled The Desert. It had been brought to his attention by his wife, Queen Elizabeth, and its words comforted the Queen and the nation then as it still does for many now. Its words were engraved on the gates of the King George’s tomb at Windsor Castle.
The world was to be plunged once more into a terrible war, this time not as in WWI with Queen Victoria’s grandsons (first cousins: King and Kaiser and Czar) fighting it out for European mega rule and power, but this time with a mad man and his cronies about to bully and plunder, kill and ruin so many and so much that had been built with labours of strength and love in European and world civilization.
That war ended too, as all wars eventually must, but not before it had brought about the decimation of much of civilization, thus witnessed, written about and remembered by those who survived.
God knows, it could all happen again, in not quite the same but in similar ways, and same and new places, by demagogues bullies of evil thinkers and doers for whom truth is nothing but a tool for more successful bullying and winning, and calling out and shutting out those who could and should be part of the communal family.
But here’s the same advice in the words of King George VI who broadcast them widely to county and empire as the Year began that would mark England’s sure-entry into the horrors of World War II.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
The original poem continued -
God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.
Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
Fair beyond all surmise . . .
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.
There is much that is dark to us now and we venture out as we must, either with temerity or trust, timidly or – not with boldness, but with a kind of certainty that is born of faith in the God Who is faithful.
All the Seasons lie ahead – mixed and varying widely in their expressions, both of beauty and of bounty. There are riches in each and there are dangers too.
It’s a wonder we get up and out of bed some mornings. – All the horrible things that could happen to us; the things that could go sadly wrong. But we do get up and we will get on – and God helping us, we will live out our days, do our part, and be joined to a great cloud of witnesses whose lives and voices have cheered us on and will continue still even as we join them.
We have exactly enough, the precise amount of time God has granted us to do in this world, in this life, all that he created us to do, the One who first of all by sheer grace has called us simply to ‘be’ and to become all that God envisions for our life, our pathway, our families, friends and neighbours, our vocations – and all our joys.