Robert Moffat

Gang awa frae tha Glen
Tae a fearsome place;
Where tha darkened souls
Hae na gleemps o’grace.
Where tha work must fit
A new tongue and race.
Gang awa frae tha Glen for a wheel.

“Tis for certs He has ca’d
Ye, and ye must roon;
Tae a land o’ plagues
And o’ blastin’ sun,
Where tha rule o’ richt
Hae just sceerce begun.
Gang awa frae tha Glen, Robbie, chile.

There be muckle tae ken
O’ tha people’s need;
O’ tha crops that thrive,
O’ tha life they lead;
O’ tha daily thirst;
O’ their warfare, greed.
Gang awa frae tha Glen, and be wise.

Tho’ tha ship be worsted,
Tho’ tha trail be long,
Tho’ tha beasts be awful,
Ye’ll arrive anon;
And commence tae cant
Tha sweet Gospel song.
Gang awa frae tha Glen, in His love.

And ye’ll spot tha dee
When it starts tae click.
As they bring their young,
And they bring their sick;
For o’ Jesus’ kind
They ken nae sic lik..
Gang awa frae tha Glen, tae be used.

An’ it’s nae sa muckle
That their needs ye know,
Whuch’ll fan tha flame,
Cause your strenth tae grow;
But tha confeedence
“Tis your Laird says, “Go!”
Gang awa frae tha Glen, ‘til you’re gone.

(Robert Moffat, Pioneer Missionary to South-west Africa)

Note: The story is told of the early day in the mission of Moffat when his camp was confronted by a prominent chieftain. The man demanded to know the purpose of the missionary’s visit and the authority who sent him.

Through an interpreter, Moffat advised that he represented the greatest of all Chiefs and that he was bringing news and help for the best in life. The native said that he would kill Moffat and his chief. The territory was under his absolute control. He brandished a menacing spear. His retinue stood at the ready.

Calmly Moffat loosened the breast of his jacket. Striding to within inches of the man’s face, he pointed to his own heart and said, “My Chief lives here. If you intend murder, do it now, for I will not be held back from my purpose.”

The other’s jaw dropped. His spear hand faltered. His bluff had been called. The two would soon become fast friends.


And We Are a Spectacle

And we are a spectacle

Coming last in the triumph

Of godless land-grabbers.

We wear animal skins

And sad countenance

While crowds on either side

Laugh and jeer.

“He trusted”, they say.

“She swore by her God.

Hah, God on this carnival day!”

And the music grates the senses

And the clowns’ grotesque smiles

Reek of perversion.

While we cry

Remembering Via Dolorosa

And the short-lived

Shame of our King.

He had it in Him

To despise the shame;

To look beyond

And climb the stairs

Of noble destiny.

So shall we.

Even now the costumes of contempt

Are dropping off

The fetters loosen.

Some from the sidelines

Even join our Cause.

And the King is surely up ahead.


2 Corinthians 6: 4-10

Moment in Chains

The chains held Him up
To hook in dripping ceiling
Strange rest…and needed
From carrying and advancing
Needy crowds thick ears
Messages only half heard
Sickness sadness
Hearts terribly alone
While He offered Father
Heard from Father
Mission ongoing.
Religion available
Proved so ugly
And so short-sighted.
Still He painted the Kingdom
Til powers of men
Taunted Him
Tested Him
Tethered Him
Took Him to farcical
Judgment seats.
Laying on those chains.
The hook in that ceiling
Now offered short respite.
The Morrow held mobs
And that Hill.
Almost through and accomplished.
Resurrection promise
Soon His only mainstay.

William Kurelek, Artist Come Partly Out of the Fog

On February 9th Hilary and I visited the AGO in Toronto (Art Gallery Ontario at 317 Dundas Street West). First time ever for me, and last seen some 40 years ago by my wife.

The special draw had been an exhibit of French Impressionism (Gaugin, Monet, Van Gogh and others). It was a thrill to stand moments in front of Starry Night over the Rhone. The slapped on texture of the oils. The bold blue colours of the sparkling night sky and lively waters beneath. The curious interjection of the human element within the celestial grandeur. Van Gogh reputedly a crazy man and his works near the edge brilliant.

Image result for Van Gogh Starry night at Rouen

We were pleased that the permanent exhibits included much of our own Canadian impressionists, the Group of Seven. Their pieces honoured the cold north, the mountains, the small rural villages, the dense green Pacific cordillera and the wind and wavy wild around Georgian Bay. Names like Thompson, Jackson, Harris and Carr. Most students know of the strange disappearance of Thompson in a canoe trip.

At one point there was need for a sit-down and we found ourselves in a room honouring the “Prairie Ukrainian” artist William Kurelek. We just wanted to enjoy the big sofa but we found ourselves growing in fascination for the images. Small town with the big attraction of a mother moose and calf on the main street focus of a large entertained crowd, or a potato farmer hauling in his harvest by horse wagon before bad weather and with a young couple under a bright orange-leaved tree thinking of their romance, the full moon above and perhaps some apples.


Image result for moose on main street by Kurelek

In traveling Europe Kurelek admitted himself to a mental hospital in London. Studies and healing had both provoked the trip. Doctors used new pieces of his art as therapy and diagnosis. His piece called The Maze has drawn much comment. It represented an open section of the painter’s head with small compartments revealing life experience or fears or disillusionments. At the centre was a little mouse curled up in fear, purportedly Kurelek.

At the first hospital and the second he found himself increasingly drawn to the Gospels and he launched a series of images called The Passion. Impressionist ideas on the noble mission of Jesus.

My study is ongoing, but I will say that I am thankful that the 2 of us got tired of being on our feet and discovered this rich body of work, feeling and life experience.