NW-00025 | The ploughman’s poet

Night-Whisper | PERSEVERE |

Proverbs 19:21 |
“There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel – that will stand.” NKJV

Rabbie Burns, the bard of Ayrshire, poet, lyricist, and Scotland’s most famous son, is tonight celebrated worldwide especially amongst the Scottish Diaspora, because tonight of course, is ‘Burns Night!’

Without me going into the ritual and content of a Burns Night supper, which is co-centered around a haggis and a speech made to the immortal memory of Rabbie Burns, let me cut to the end of the night, where the proceeding are closed with a favorite collection of some of the songs and poems of this most famous of ploughman’s poets.

You see, my favorite Burns poem is ‘Tae a Moose’ or better still maybe, ‘To a Mouse.’ This great poem is peppered with sadness, regret, remorse, tenderness and soulish association. The poem centers very simply, around the destruction of a mouse nest but in the so doing, it most profoundly portrays the basic theme of the piece which is:

that mere mortals of all sizes and souls, of all desires and drives, even though they make best their plans for the future, often it is the unexpected, unplanned for and often times disastrous, which shall come upon them.

The last two stanzas read as follows:

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me;
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects dreaer!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

( and now the understandable version  )

But, mousie, thou art not alane,
In proving foresight may be in vain,
The best laid schemes of mice and men,
Go oft astray,
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
To rend our day.

Still thou art blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches thee,
But, oh, I backward cast my eye
On prospects drear,
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear.

One example of this poem’s consistent influence is the fact that Nobel Prize winning author, John Steinbeck, changed the original title of his first play-novelette to one of the lines of this poem and called it, ‘Of Mice and Men.’ Set in the American depression of the 1930’s this Steinbeck work, currently on the American Library Association’s list at no 4 in ‘The Most Challenged Books of the 21st century,’ portrays in the most magnificent, moving, and yet depressive terms, that no man-made plan is fool-proof and that no one, absolutely no one, can be completely prepared for the future. Yes indeed, knowing that ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,’ can indeed fill us with a great and debilitating fear concerning the future.

I am sure of one thing this Burn’s night, and that is that fear concerning the future will rob us of the enjoyment of the present. So, it is ever and always an active decision of ours not to let that happen. Indeed, we cannot have true contentment without a choice of enjoyment that leads to our eventual satisfaction. So, according to our Lord Jesus, let us feast on the day which we have been given, plan and prepare for the future, as much as is right and profitable, and then leave it all with God. Whatever that future might be, we must leave it all with God.

My present stage on this personal journey of mine leaves tonight’s text filling me with a strange mixture of both confusion and peace. Nevertheless, this statement of God stands solid and secure: the future is His!

Therefore, no matter what fears ( founded or otherwise) like strange specters stand sentinel like against our pressing ahead, let us be happy for the day, thankful for what we have, and courageous in pressing forward into another day, knowing that God waits for us there.

Listen: Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Pray: Rabbie Burns (“The Selkirk Grace”)
Some hae meat and cannot eat.
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.



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