Three days into 2013 and already I am feeling like the "man who stood at the gate of the year". Do you know what I am talking about? Can you guess who asked: "Give me a light that I may tread into the unknown"? The final months of 2012 were bleak with a devastating natural disaster here on the East Coast, unspeakable crimes at home (Newtown, Ct.) and abroad (New Delhi, India) and my own dark night of the soul. Following Superstorm Sandy, my 83-year-old friend in Cambridge, England sent me a poem made famous by George VI in his Christmas speech in 1937 (and later in the movie "The King's Speech) . Darkness abounded that season as well. The British empire was not only on the cusp of a new year but another world war. The king, hardly a compelling speaker, quoted from a poem that his daughter, then princess Elizabeth, had given him. The poem was titled "God Knows", and it was written by Minnie Louise Hawkins, who taught economics in the first half of the of the 20th century.
Though I seldom turn to God for answers, this poem has already provided me with comfort and inspiration as I crawled out of 2012 and tiptoed into 2013. Here's the poem in full and a little background about the decidedly 21st light sculpture that you can still see at a hidden gem of a park in Manhattan but hurry. The art installation closes the end of this month. If you haven't played the video at the beginning of this post, please do. " I find it very calming," said Liz Mindlin, 61, who lives near the park. I suspect we are going to have to find a sense of calm in this already turbulent new year, don't you think? Do you prefer music or poetry, art or prayer or some other soothing strategy (meditation, maybe? I still can't get the hang of that) when times get tough? Let us know.
by Minnie Louise Hawkins
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.
So heart be still:What need our little lifeOur human life to know,If God hath comprehension?In all the dizzy strifeOf things both high and low,God hideth His intention.
God knows. His willIs best. The stretch of yearsWhich wind ahead, so dimTo our imperfect vision,Are clear to God. Our fearsAre premature; In Him,All time hath full provision.
Then rest: untilGod moves to lift the veilFrom our impatient eyes,When, as the sweeter featuresOf Life’s stern face we hail,Fair beyond all surmiseGod’s thought around His creaturesOur mind shall fill.