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)
All my life, I have been an admirer of words, and for the past several years, I’ve kept a running file of meaningful quotations and poems I adore. When I happened upon this poem a year or so ago, I added it to my file with the thought that if I could ever summon the fortitude necessary to start a blog of my own, I’d begin it with this poem’s beautiful message. I did some recent research and discovered this small poem happens to own a special place in history. According to Wikipedia, and to an article written in 2008 by Christopher Howse and published in The Telegraph, King George VI closed his Christmas Day broadcast to an anxious empire with the comforting words of this poem. It was December of 1939, and the dark days of World War II had descended. The poem’s author, Minnie Haskins, heard the excerpt read in a summary of the King’s speech the day after Christmas and realized his closing words were from her poem, “God Knows,” which had been published in her collection, The Desert, in 1908. Imagine her astonishment.
“The Gate of the Year,” as it is known today, was discovered by Elizabeth (The Queen Mother), who brought the poem to her husband’s attention. The Queen Mother treasured “The Gate of the Year” throughout her life, and after George VI died, she had the words engraved on brass plaques to adorn the gates of his final resting place at Windsor Castle. Fifty years after her dear husband’s death, “The Gate of the Year” was read in 2002 at The Queen Mother’s funeral.
How improbable, how marvelous, that the heartfelt words of an obscure poet could win the admiration of a Queen and a King, and give solace to a nation at war. Words are wondrous. The right words spoken at the right time have the ability to soothe, calm, instruct, encourage, and make a profound difference.
Outside my sunroom window, a powdered-sugar snow sifts through the boughs of our white pines, and the winter woods are hushed. Another year has drawn to a close, and today, the gate of 2014 swings open. How does one chart a new course, pursue a dream, follow through on a good resolution, or, in my case, begin a blog? It’s simple. All that is required is the willingness to move forward, to take that first, fateful step, in faith. Whatever it is you’re dreaming of as this fresh, new year unfolds – and the possibilities are endless – I hope you’ll take that first step and see it through. Welcome to My Path with Stars Bestrewn.