“Don’t be anxious,” Jesus tells us in the Gospel (Mk 6:34). But frankly, I’ve been wondering how we are supposed to do that in this terrifying world in which we live. I sometimes wake up in the 3 a.m. “hour of the dragon” and am faced with some of the challenges facing people of every nation and the very health of fragile earth.
I could list all those things that seem to be going wrong around us, and so could you. I could tell stories of people I know and love, stories from my Sisters and our guests in the monastery that underscore the risky world we live in. So could you from your own experience. You and I know we sometimes sit around and spin the risk until we are looking at a catastrophe. So what are we to do?
In 1908 the poet Minnie Louise Haskins published the poem “The Gate of Year,” part of a collection titled The Desert. Her poem was widely acclaimed as inspirational, reaching its first mass audience in the early days of the Second World War. Those of us who lived some portion of those years, or who have since studied that time in history, know that it, too, was a risky time threatening mass destruction of the world. Haskins wrote in part: "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.' So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. "
What was there in that poem that caught the imagination of people of all nations? For those of us who believe in a God who desires only our good, it seems an affirmation that we can trust God. In our times of anxiety, it seems a better light and safer way than anything else.
St. Therese of Lisieux born 85 years before Minnie wrote her poem, offers us comparable words of trust in the midst of this age of anxiety:
Today may there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is here for each and every one of us.
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