Betty Mates: Stepping Stones 

Stepping Stones

With all eternity to claim

Never be afraid.

The road to Heaven commences here

And here the choice is made.

Secure we tread, untouched by time,

Though weak and poorly shod;

And death is but another step

Upon the road to God.


Live each minute as it comes

And not a second more.

Forgive the past and let it go,

Embrace the present, watch it grow.

All future patterns lie with God alone.

Subtly on the fringes of my mind

Intimations sweet of Thee I find.

Knowledge that my life is in Your care;

That the love of God is always there

To catch my soul

And help me understand

His hold will never loosen on my hand.


In the silence You and I are one,

Holy Spirit, God the Father, Son,

Images are shattered, visions gone,

Words dissolve; the little light that shone

So fitfully all in an instant dies

And only in the empty darkness lies

The Holy Heart of Love

That calls me home.

Give to me the eyes of love, oh Lord,

That I may cherish everything I see;

Give to me the hands of love

That you may use my feeble efforts fruitfully.

And give to me the feet of love, oh Lord,

That they may surely find the narrow way.

The secret pathway of Thine endless grace

That leads unto the foothills of Thy day.


Let me concentrate my soul on Thee

And in it make a silent sanctuary

Wherein the blessing of Thy love may stay

Amid the clamour of the passing day.

Recognise the Lord in every one you meet,

The Christ within that Jesus knew;

The love of God that follows you

And goes before.



I touched a stranger's sleeve

To help his shaky step across the road,

My fingers felt the texture of the cloth

And instantly your arm, your coat, it was.

I cannot bear it, Lord, I cannot bear -

And yet it is not I, but Thou must bear;

If You can bear the sorrows of the world

Then surely I must take my tiny share.




My precious partner of the years, farewell.

Yet not farewell - our time will come again.

Our magic time when we were truly one,

And all our love spilled over on the world

That with us laughed and cried and suffered pain.


Thank you, Lord, that I can bear to live again;

Though, as you know, not as I did before,

For you, alone, can understand, can be with us

And enter in through suffering's lonely door.

And you, alone, can lead us slowly, gently,

Along the road that still we have to tread;

Showing us purpose where we feel there is none

Until we meet with those the world calls dead.


But I am here and you are there

- How far you seem to be;

My yearning soul must patience learn,

We have eternity.

And are you in Elysian fields, my darling,

Wherever those Elysian fields may be;

The much-remembered meadows of our gladness

Translated now into eternity ?


If only my eyes could open be

- The eyes of my soul

Then I should see

How close you really are to me.

The tears of God are shed

Through Jesus Christ,

Compassion walketh

Hand in hand with love.



And He companions me along the way.

I do not always know that He is there;

Sometimes the storms of life obscure my sight

But sometimes I am wonderfully aware.

Wonderfully aware of Thee, my Lord,

Who ever journeys on the road I tread,

Who ever gives me silent strength and love

And guides me through the labyrinth ahead.

We share the anguished fellowship of suffering

I know that he supports me in my pain,

He gives me grace to trust Him when I cannot;

Renews my soul and brings me home again.



Drift in the darkness,

Unknowing, unfearing,

Your only companion the love in your heart.

Jesus within you and Jesus beside you;

Jesus will come to you - finished your part.

He is the husbandman,

Rest on his promise.

In Him is the freedom

For living to start.

We are safe indeed

Within the embrace of His loving care.

And so are those

That we no longer see;

An even deeper fellowship we share.


Released at last from the prison of pain

The spirit has found its freedom again.

Not that you need our prayers, oh Lord,

But that we need to pray.

Or is there in the eternal heart

Something that needs us - to make us a part

Of all that you want to say ?

Not that you need our care, oh Lord,

But that we need to care.

Or do the purposes of your will

Need all our caring - to help you fill

Those gaps in every day ?

Contain my soul in patience, Lord,

Help me to watch and pray.

Thy love, alone, to rest upon

From day to day to day …

Send me the solace that I seek,

Thy calming consolation,

Acceptance mild and peace of mind

Thy Holy inspiration.


Oh sweet sour humility

Always my companion be.

Let thy soft astringent rue

Complement whate'er I do.

Let thy healing virtue clear

The pride of spirit that I fear;

The pride of dogma, self and 'role'

That every day assails my soul.

We try and equate our worth with what we do.

Oh, Lord, I know that this is not Thy plan.

Worth is not gained;

Christ has explained

The mould divine in which we all began.


Ever may my spirit be

Rooted in humility.

Prune the pride that spreads like fire;

Purify my soul's desire.

May I always seek Thy Will

And cleave unto Thy purpose still.

Beyond the words that clog and baffle,

Far beyond the reach of pain,

There my soul shall shed its sorrow

God will claim His own again.


We cannot lift our souls up very high

But, glory be, God does not scorn to bend.

The love of God cannot be bought,

It cannot be earned,

It cannot be deserved

- It cannot be won.

It can only be accepted

.....And always it is there to be accepted.


Never search for humility;

The quest destroys the quarry.


I've been to see Jesus - a dusty Jesus,

Dusty, dying and dead.

Congealed in his Passion in marble and silver,

Entrapped in his anguish in lead.

Caught in a cage of our misunderstanding

Of timber and plaster and stone;

Yet worship gave birth to this need for expression

And reverence fashioned the throne.

The throne of his glory - in gold and in jewels

Where majesty weareth a crown;

How far from his teaching, how far from his story,

The weight of our love bows him down.

In some way or other we all are mistaken

Whatever our doctrine or creed,

The dogmas we mutter, the forms that we follow

Denote not His wish but our need.

Yet none of this matters to Jesus, our Jesus,

Not dusty, nor dying, nor dead.

For LOVE calls to our love, transforms the confusion

And leads us where loving has led.


The Lord has laid His hand upon me;

His compulsion is within me,

His balm doth soothe my soul.

I seeketh Him because He seeketh me

And life assumes new grace 'neath His control.

Dimly perceived, like planets in the sky

That circle the uncomprehending earth,

'Tis sensed, not known, His seed is sown,

We must not cease to strive to give it birth.

A little now I know of what men mean

When they have said they wrestled with the Lord.

The sinews of the spirit crack and strain

The paradox divine of joy and pain,

But never shall I be alone again.

My thoughts are boats that sail away

Across the lucid air.

Oh how I long to manifest,

How I long to share

The dreams that dwell within my soul

- To scatter from His store;

But "other little children

Shall bring my boats to shore"*


*From a poem by R L Stevenson.

Baby dear, look up to the sky,

Never again will it seem so high;

Never again will it seem so low

For Heaven recedes as babies grow.


We live in the transient now

On the shifting sands of time;

The mountains of eternity

Await us in their prime.

If you open your heart to all men

It will become hard with the passage of many feet.

But open it first to the Lord

And it will be as inviolate as compassionate.


We are all caught up in the web of life and death

… And time is the spider.

The world can change and change again

In such a little time.

The new is old - the old is dead;

No reason to our rhyme.

The aching wilderness of words

Has brought but fruitless pain

Only the spirit whispers still

"You must be born again".


Jesus, my friend,

I find it hard

To speak of the Christ within,

For words are so inadequate

… And how does one begin ?

We cannot raise our souls up

Higher than we are able.

But in our Father's House are many mansions

And, thanks be to God, there will be room to grow.


Grant me patience and humour and strength, O Lord,

Enwrapped in the ribbons of love;

Enwrapped in the ribbons of love.

Dwell not on sin

But on the gladness of the Love of God.

For as one looks so one becomes,

And where the glance goes action follows on.

Mistakes are the text-books of learning.


We are babes in the womb of the world,

Waiting to be born into the light.

Bereavement is an unhealed wound.


Being old is having no one to whom

You can say "Do you remember ?"

We are always taught in stages,

as in life so in understanding

spiritual realities.


That which is hardly given is more

valuable to its owner, and therefore

more to be relinquished.

Always remember, much is

happening in our interior life

which is not immediately evident.


Faith is constant struggle, not serenity;

but inns of joy are found along the way.

Yesterday and tomorrow are the

trappings of time. Now is Eternity.


One must not wait until one is 'fitter'

because then one waits forever.

Everything matters, but nothing

must matter too much.


The more we diminish the nearer we

draw to the truth.

One cannot live in advance of oneself.


As we grow older we become younger,

because we are approaching our 'prime

time' - which will come when we move on

to the next stage of our immortality.

Death is a cliché that always remains.

What are the losses and what are the gains?


Each must make his own journey.

Nourishment will be offered by many

on the way. Much you will digest and

be strengthened thereby. Other food

will prove too rich; you are not yet

ready for it. But all will be valid

- for someone else, if not for you.


The silence of God is more beautiful

Than all the words of man.

Let not the arms of love

Become the tentacles of possession.


God enters our lives not according

to our 'worthiness', but to the

degree that we are enabled to accept him.

Have no expectations;  have 'acceptations'.


Eternity is where you are and

where I am, and is now.

Those that think they have humility have not;

Those that think they have humility

Because they do not think they have humility have not.

Those that have it never know they have.


Christ upon the Cross is the seal

of our redemption - the insignia

of our Divinity as the sons of God.

My recalcitrant soul

Its own way fain would go;

Alone I cannot lead it

By the path that I would know.


God can never let us go.

We are his heirs and as such

Can never be cast aside.

The greatest gift of all is silence.


Eternity is God's workshop.



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1990ish at Burghley House: Betty with daughter, Bet, and grand-daughter, Lizzy