A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Winter of God, by James K Baxter,

The winter of middle age is sent to us so that we should learn to throw our natural youth as a willing sacrifice on the bonfire and grow young again in God. It is only those who cling desperately to the natural level – to a sexuality that may be inopportune, to material possessions, to social status, to a sense of failure because of unachieved material ambitions – who are forging out for themselves a thoroughly lonely and ice-encrusted old age. God wishes us to learn to suffer joyfully. ...

There was a time when I hoarded the verse I wrote and looked in all the literary periodicals to find out what John Smith or Marmaduke Fitzherbert thought about me and my work. I hope that the time will come when I write the best poem I have ever written. I will write it on a sheet of rough paper, and fold the paper into a boat such as children make, and send the boat sailing down a creek towards the sea. Nobody will read it. And I will forget about it.

It is right and proper to forget such things when Our Lord and Our Lady stand beside us, waiting to take our ageing hands in their own. The winter of God is sent to us to break our hearts wide open and make them ready for the spring. When we were young we did what we wanted and were bitterly sad; when we are old, let us instead do what God wants us to do. Then we will know the beginnning of an inextinguishable joy.   

-- An extract from The Winter of God, by James K Baxter, March 1969

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