In 1908, British poet Minnie Louise Haskins published a collection titled The Desert, which included a poem called God Knows, later changed to The Gate of the Year. It read:
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 in 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.
As we enter 2019, I can't help but think about Haskins' words and how applicable they are to my own life, and certainly to the lives of many others. In these tumultuous days we face collectively and individually, The Gate of the Year is every bit as relevant and applicable today as it was over a century ago. It doesn't take much imagination to think of all of the risks, problems, and issues of contention we face as a society, and how these challenges may manifest in the year to come.
I once had the notion that the older you get, the more certain (as much as "certain" can exist in this world), stable, and maybe even mundane life became. Now, as I venture into those years I once looked upon as my "older" ones, I realize this isn't necessarily always the case. Uncertainty can often cause feelings of excitement and adventure, but it can also bring with it much fear and worry. As someone who was never a huge fan of change, the fears and worries can pretty quickly grow to overshadow the excitement and sense of adventure. In my case, when every day becomes an OCD wonderland, I know the 'ol fears and worries are in high gear.
Regardless of what spiritual perspective you come from, it's often said that we have a purpose and reason for our life. I've heard it said it's no accident you were born when and where you were. Whether you believe we live a "one and done" life according to the plan of God, the Creator, the Source (or whatever term you prefer), or whether you believe we live many lifetimes in various circumstances of our soul's choosing so as to learn certain lessons, or anything in between, there is a sense in many of us that we have some sort of purpose to fulfill.
The big question is "what is it?" What if it's not what we think it is? Christina (my wife) once challenged me and my lofty thoughts about life's purpose by asking me something along the lines of "what if your entire purpose for being here was because of one person who needed to hear something you sang one particular day in church?" After my ego stopped gasping for air, rolled over, lifted itself to its knees, took a few deep breaths, stood up, dusted itself off, and staggered over to a chair to sit down, I reluctantly pondered this concept. A while back, I read Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven, in which the main character learns how nothing in life is random, and the individuals and experiences of life are connected.
Maybe reality's like Albom's story, and we have no idea what it was really all about until it's over. Ha, and then there's those that say we exist in multiple parallel timelines going on simultaneously, covering the span of any and every possible circumstance and storyline you can imagine. Or maybe it all really is like the movie The Matrix, and this is all one big illusion... pause while head explodes from overthinking....
For whatever reason, I've been afforded the opportunity to learn that very little in this world is what we think it is, or were taught and conditioned to believe. That can be the most disturbing or the most inspiring realization one can have. Often it's both. It's like the beginning of a brand new life. By no means do I have all the answers, and I probably never will. At least not in this lifetime. But at the same time, the blinders are off.
Hello, 2019. I've got high hopes for you. Together, let's deviate from the known way. Through the darkness, guided by the Hand of God, we'll find the breaking of day.
A happy new year, filled with many blessings, to all of you!