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 a light,
And safer than a known way.
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night.
(M. Louise Haskins 1875-1975)
Quoted by King George VI in his 1939 Christmas broadcast.
At the beginning of the New Year, we look back over the past year and also towards the one that is just beginning. One of the things that stood out for all of us in 2007, was that we remembered with great love and gratitude, our teacher and guide on the path of meditation, John Main. We recalled the details of his life; reread his books; and listened again to his voice encouraging us on our own spiritual path. What a great gift all of that is!
As I recently re-read the above poem by Louise Haskins, I immediately thought of Fr. John. I think these words can aptly be applied to him, because they describe the kind of person he was. He was a man of great faith, trust, hope and love, which was evident not only by his teaching, but by his life, as well as by his suffering and death.
Like the poet, we too stand at the gate of another year. What will it bring for us? Where will we go? What will happen? At this point, the future is unknown. In his letters to Benedictine Oblates, John Main continually reminds us that the only thing that really matters is that we ‘seek God’ (R.B. 58) as the centre of our lives, and ‘place all our hope in him’. (R.B. 4) We do not need to equip ourselves for the journey, but simply to walk in faith, trust, and hope, confident that God is always with us.
As a Benedictine monk, John Main was deeply immersed in the spirit of the Rule. This was particularly evident in his talks and letters to Benedictine Oblates, as well as many others. His words of encouragement invite each one of us to delve more deeply into the Rule of Benedict, and find within its pages inspiration for our own lives.
Wishing each one of you a happy New Year, with many graces and blessings.