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.”

     The above is an excerpt from the poem “God Knows” quoted by King George VI in a Christmas broadcast to the citizens of Great Britain. The year was 1939 and England, along with much of the world, was on the brink of a great war. The times were dark in part because the future was unknown, but also because the present was so precarious. The message of the poem and of the king was meant to inspire the people to reach beyond and/or deep within themselves, for the courage to meet whatever challenges were in store.

     Like all beginnings, a new year holds much uncertainty. Will there be joy, the likes of which we’ve never experienced? Will there be trials that test our mettle? Will there be heartbreaking sorrows? Most likely there will be some of each, but until they visit us the future remains unknown.

    As with the England of King George, our present is also precarious; a pandemic, political unrest, racial tension, global warming, and much more, create an atmosphere of fear and insecurity that hang heavy over our daily comings and goings. The poet’s plea is one we could easily echo: “give me a light that I might tread safely into the unknown.”

    The response to that plea, “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God,” remains good counsel today. We cannot be passive in the face of fear. We cannot be reluctant to enter the unknown. If we are to be fully alive we cannot afford to wait for life to happen to us. Bold action based on trust in a Higher/Inner Power is always “better than a known way.”  

    King George closed his broadcast with words appropriate for our times: “A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted.”

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