FaithPrayers Newsletter – January/February 2016
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 thirty years ago on a church bulletin. I hurried home, cut off the front of the bulletin, and immediately put it on my refrigerator with magnets. I didn’t want to lose those words. For many years, I would pull out the old bulletin each January and put it back up.
I had no idea where the words came from. The bulletin said the author was “anonymous.” But I did know that something about them spoke to my heart. Much later, I discovered that the author was Minnie Haskins, a grocer’s daughter from Bristol, England. It’s 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.
Her poem was made famous by King George VI in his Christmas Day broadcast in 1939, as the Second World War was beginning. The world around him was in crisis and longing for hope. The poem had been brought to King George’s attention by his wife, Queen Elizabeth (mother of the current Queen Elizabeth), and it was recited at her funeral some 63 years later.
These words have impacted so many people. Every time I mention them to someone familiar with them, their face lights up. Or, if they haven’t heard them yet, they immediately say, “Please send me that poem!”
Why do those lines affect us so?