This prayer from Alistair Maclean’s ‘Hebridean Altars’ seems the right introduction to November, when we remember all who have died and been guided over the ford to Heaven. Consider, if you will, the phrase, ‘When I shall make an end of living’. Maybe we should do that each night before sleep: ‘The Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end. Amen’
O Holy Christ,
bless me with Thy presence
when my days are weary
and my friends few.
Bless me with Thy presence
when my joy is full,
lest I forget the Giver in the gift.
Bless me with Thy presence
when I shall make an end of living.
Help me in the darkness to find the ford.
And in my going
comfort me with Thy promise
that where Thou art,
There shall Thy servant be.
We continue reading from Hebridean Altars by Alistair Maclean his 1937 collection of the Islanders’ wisdom and piety. Who could not make their own the first part of the prayer we share today? The second part echoes Paul to the Colossians (1:24): “in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”
Christ says to each one of us, “Thou must take his place.”
Seven times a day, as I work upon this hungry farm,
I say to Thee,
"Lord, why am I here?
"What is there here to stir my gifts to growth?
"What great thing can I do for others --
"I who am captive to this dreary toil?"
And seven times a day Thou answerest,
"I cannot do without thee.
"Once did my Son live thy life,
"and by his faithfulness did show
"My mind, My kindness and My truth to men.
"But now He is come to My side.
"And thou must take His place."
It’s time for another visit to the Hebrides, in the prayers and wisdom of the Islanders collected by Alistair Maclean in ‘Hebridean Altars’. This prayer derives from Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Gone are the days when we might have felt confident to leave a door unlatched, a bicycle unlocked. We can, though, be ready to welcome Lord Jesus in whomsoever crosses the threshold of our home, or presents themselves to our eyes and ears, the threshold of our hearts.
I wait with Love's expectancy.
Lord Jesus, trouble not to knock at my door.
My door is always on the latch.
Come in, Dear Guest,
and be my host,
and tell me all thy Mind.
Break upon our blindness with Thy light.
Show us, whatever we deem loss,
That love is final gain.
Alistair Maclean gathered the reflections we have shared these last few days from the ordinary people of the Hebrides where he was a Church of Scotland minister, and clearly a good listener. His mysticism is not superficial feel-good stuff, but is born of love of God and the world he has entrusted to us.
We wanted to keep yesterday’s post simple for it needs no introduction, no explanation. Dr Maclean gave his own afterword to today’s prayer, so no more from your editors today.
Be Thou Thyself the guiding star above me,
Lighthouse be thou for every reef and shoal,
Pilot my barque upon the crest of sea-wave
To where the waters make no moan or roll.
Oh the restful haven of the wandering soul!
This, is it not a matchless prayer for fishers of every race and age? The Hebridean, with but a plank between him and the seabed, murmured it a thousand times. As he did so, his vision bore him to some still port far from the breaking seas, some secret haven where the green swell is dumb, and children play on the pearl-white sand.