... The Gate...
The Gate of The Year
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.
Minnie Louise Haskins
With the funeral this week of the Duke of Edinburgh, I have been reminded of this poem (only the first verse is reproduced here). It was quoted by King George VI in his Christmas Broadcast in 1939, four months after Britain had declared war on Germany. It remained a source of comfort to the Queen Mother after he had died, she had its words engraved on stone plaques and fixed to the gates of the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the King George VI, the Queen Mother and now the Duke of Edinburgh are interred. I wonder if the Queen is perhaps at this time also taking some comfort from these words.
As I gaze out across the gardens and paddock at the Bield, my eyes rested on this gate and I began to wonder what our post pandemic life will be like. The words of this poem seemed appropriate and inspirational once again, for me and perhaps for many of you too, as we prepare to step through a gate into unfamiliar territory, of travel and in-person socialising, regaining some of our old freedoms, but where the customary ways of doing things may be no longer be fitting, I am encouraged to put my had into the hand of my creator and trust in Gods to lead me on this unknown way ahead.
Looking beyond this gate, at the two sheep standing in the shade of the tree in the paddock, my thoughts turn too to the passage in the Gospel of John (10:9) “I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved, they will come in and go out and find pasture”. It is through placing our trust in God, that we are freed to live life in all its vitality, and in the midst of the struggles, grief, uncertainties, moments of joy and exhilaration, find the place of shelter from the harshness of the heat, but where we can still experience the warm of the sun and rest like these sheep in peace.