FaithPrayers Newsletter – January-February 2013
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.”
Minnie Haskins, 1875-1957
I first read those words some twenty-five years ago on a church bulletin. I went home, cut off the front of the bulletin, and immediately put it on my refrigerator with magnets. I didn’t want to lose it. For many years, I would pull it out each January and put it back up. I had no idea where the words came from, as the bulletin simply said the author was “anonymous”. I only knew that something about them spoke deeply to my heart. It was much later that I discovered the author was Miss Minnie Haskins, a grocer’s daughter from Bristol, England. It is said that the words came to her while standing on an upstairs balcony one night, looking down a lighted path to the gate at the end of the drive.
The words were made famous by King George VI in his Christmas Day broadcast in 1939, as the Second World War was beginning and the world was in crisis and looking for hope. The poem was brought to King George’s attention by his wife, Queen Elizabeth (mother of the current Queen Elizabeth), and they were spoken at her funeral some 63 years later.
These words have impacted so many people. Each time I mention these words to someone familiar with them, their face lights up. Or if they haven’t heard them yet, they immediately reply “please send me that poem!” And why? Why do those lines affect us so?