As I was reading through my journal from 2020, I was reminded about a poem that a good friend and fellow pastor had shared with me early in the year (pre-COVID). The poem is called “The Gate of the Year” and was authored by a young British lady named Minnie Louise Haskins. Shortly after my friend shared the poem with me, I looked it up on Google and wrote the words of the poem in my journal. As the difficult weeks and months of 2020 passed by, I often returned to the words that I’d hastily scribbled down.
For a little historical context: the poem was originally composed in 1908, but it didn’t catch the attention and imagination of the public until King George VI quoted it in his 1939 Christmas broadcast to the British Empire. It was the young Princess Elizabeth II who at the age of 13 brought the poem to her father’s attention.
In the early days of the 2nd World War, the poem became a powerful source of inspiration and comfort to the fear-filled people of London. Its words remained a source of solace to the Queen Mother for the rest of her life. She even had the words of the poem engraved on stone plaques and fixed to the gates of the Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle. At her memorial service, the words of this poem were included as a reflection in the ceremony’s order of service.
With all of that background in mind, I think that this poem provides a great reflection for us as we enter this new year. Check out these words from the poem “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.
So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.
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,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.