THE "AMEN" OF LEWS
WRITTEN BY THE REV. NORMAN C. MACFARLANE IN 1924

THE SEER OF SHAWBOST

THE LEWS had "Men" of great spiritual stature, but this son of the island towered over all the others in the gift of prophecy. He was born at Shawbost, on the West Side of the island and lived there all his fourscore years. It is 60 years since he died, but his fame has never died. His name was Malcolm Maclean. He bore his father's name and was locally known as Calum Mhic Chaluim. He apparently rivalled King Saul in physical stature.
In his own parish, and all over the Lews, he was best recognised as "Calum Mòr na h-Urnaigh" (Big Malcolm of Prayer). His prayerfulness was the wonder of the community. He rose long before dawn so that, like his Lord, he might hold communion with God. He never sat longer than half an hour in any company, however delightful the company might be. He must go out to see his Heavenly Father's face. The lure of prayer was stronger than all the pleasures of holy converse with fellow believers. God's presence was to him the most captivating of all fascinations.
This remarkable man could not read but his memory held long Scripture chapters to the last letter. He carried every detail to his Heavenly Father, and was on terms of extraordinary friendship with God. Some people thought his gift of prophecy verged on the uncanny, but there is no mystery at all about it in a soul of such sweet simplicity and faith as his, merged, as it continually was, in heart to heart communication with God."Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?"
In that prayerfulness in which he was constantly steeped, his mind became a sensitised plate on which pictures from Heaven were easily and immediately made. When he came back from prayer one could read Paradise Regained in his face.

STONE CAIRN

MURDO MORRISON, Thule, Edinburgh, once told me that he remembered Calum praying at family worship in his father's house on North Beach Street in Stornoway. The house faced the handsome Stornoway Castle, then occupied by Sir James Matheson. Calum's petition was, "Lord, show mercy to the man who lives in the big stone cairn over by". That was a sample of the arresting forms in which his prayers abounded. His usual address to God was, "Oh Thou of Everlasting Love". His own soul was fragrant with the love in which he browsed day by day. The whole countryside retailed instances of Calum's foretellings, many of which are still remembered.

WRONG TIME!

ONCE there was a fishing boat which failed to return when the others were driven home. Anxiety sprang into the hearts of the waiting friends. There was, after long expectation, no appearance of the boat. At length they went to the Seer. He said that the boat would arrive safely "at 12 o' clock tomorrow".
The morrow came, and the village crowded down to the shore to welcome the boat. Eyes were eager in scanning the horizon, but no boat appeared! A man ran to the house of the Seer and said, "It is 12, and there is no sight of the boat!"
His answer was simply, "Your time must be wrong. It's not 12 in Heaven yet!"
The man had scarcely got to the waiting company on the shore when the boat rounded a headland, and the crew were landed amid a chorus of thanksgiving.


FISHING BOAT

ANOTHER tale of the sea was of a Shawbost boat which had been fishing near the mainland. A terrific storm came on, and intense anxiety was in every heart in the village. The relatives were plunged into keen anguish by the tragic news that the boat had drifted on to the Lewis coast in a water-logged state. There was no doubt about the boat. It was perfectly clear and certain that it was the Shawbost boat. It was natural to think the crew were all washed overboard. Calum heard of the melancholy news and assured the village that, while the boat did drift, the crew were safe, and they would see them all by and by. One poor widow, whose only son was one of the crew, was prostrate with grief and moaned sadly, "Oh Calum, are you sure he's safe?"
"Yes, perfectly sure, unless something has happened since I left the hill two hours ago."
It turned out that a ship bound for Leith rescued the crew from their boat, that the fishing boat itself broke away, and that in the raging seas it was not possible for the ship to catch it up again. The crew were landed at Leith and, in due time, arrived at Shawbost.

MIRACLE

ONCE he met a friend travelling through Shawbost to the village of Bragar. Calum asked him his errand.
"I'm on my way to see my daughter who is dying of the terrible fever that is carrying off so many people in Bragar." In his mind he saw her dead and buried, over a dozen times on that sad day.
"Your daughter is not dying, and she will not die at this time," said Calum.
"But I was told she was sinking beyond all hope, and that I must hurry if I wished to see her alive."
"Your daughter will win through," was Calum's answer. She had been in the balances and death had evidently set his mark on her, but she recovered and is alive today, enjoying the nation's bounty in the form of the Old Age Pension.

COMPANY OF ANGELS

CALUM had a horse which usually grazed on the village common. One day a woman passing along saw Calum on the common as if he had been looking for his horse. She went to him and said she saw the horse feeding on the other side of the knoll.
"Woman, why do you trouble me? I was not looking for my horse! I was looking at a company of angels who were carrying the soul of a child from Arnol up to Heaven."
That evening news reached Shawbost of a child's death in the village of Arnol. It happened at the hour that Calum had the vision.

FUEL

ON one occasion Calum called on the Gaelic schoolteacher whose fees, so far as fees went, were in the shape of peats for fuel. There had been no peats brought to him lately. His supply was exhausted. There was no fire that day. He apologised to Calum for the lack of fire to welcome him and to boil the kettle.
"Never fear," said Calum. "You'll have peats within the hour."
It is said that the teacher subjected this utterance to "the merciless test" of pulling out his watch and placing it on the table. True to the prediction, a woman appeared within an hour with a creel of peats on her back for the teacher. The fire was made and soon the house was bright with glow and praise.

CALUM AND NICOL NICOLSON

WHEN that well known Lewisman, the Rev. Nicol Nicolson, was a boy of fourteen he was struck by Calum's assurance that he would be a preacher of the gospel, and added that he would have to suffer for his faithfulness and for his principles. The which, it is believed, Nicol Nicolson has done. Nicol Nicolson ministered at Garve, afterwards at his native village of Shawbost, and then at Strathcaron.

THE PROMISE

ONCE while busy getting his corn into the barn, Calum asked a boy who was idly passing by to help him, and he would pay him for his work. The boy agreed and worked with a will. When the job was finished he asked for payment.
"I'll pray for you, my boy. That is the best payment I can give you. Oh, boy, go home and be thankful! When I am in my grave you will know the value of this payment and rejoice that it is not copper that you receive for this that you have done for me."
The boy is now an old and respected elder, and from his own lips this story was given to Norman Morrison.

COLLECTOR

CALUM was a collector of the Sustentation Fund, and a most successful one. Many people gave gladly, but some gave out of fear. They were afraid of his prayers and of his prophecies.
One man refused out and out to give anything to the fund. Calum pitied him and felt for him and said, "Oh, man, this is a great folly. You will rue it. For this refusal you will lose one of your stirks!"
And so it came to pass!

JOINED IN PRAYER

THERE was nothing of personal anger in Calum over the refusal. On his collecting rounds he came to a woman whose only cow was very ill. She was in great distress.
"This is all the money I have in the house," she said. "I would like to give it to you, but I also feel that I ought to buy something with it to help the poor cow."
"You give the money to the Lord's cause, and He will look after the cow. I think I may promise you that the cow will recover."
She gave him all she had. He spent that night in prayer, but got no assurance or any message concerning the widow's cow. He was in deep trouble and hastened along to John Maclver, his fellow villager, to enlist his help in prayer.
"What will the woman say if the cow dies? I have asked her to give the money to the Lord's cause, saying that He would look after the cow. What will the village say if the cow dies? Come, friend, let us unite in prayer for the cow."
John Maclver and the Seer joined in earnest prayer for the cow, and the animal began to mend. When the story of these two saints and the cow reached the Household of Faith in Carloway there was some merriment over the place of honour which the cow obtained in the Court of Heaven!

SATAN

TO the Seer, Satan was a stern reality. He saw Satan, and the picture frightened him. Malcolm MacLean was too much a reader with heaven to be left untempted. Often the devil was at his heels, and he often trembled.
"When he is on my track I run across to that great Saint, John Maclver, and Satan leaves me. I cannot manage him, but John Maclver can." No doubt John Maclver would return the compliment! He also was too eminent a soul to be left without Satan's temptations.

THE COCK'S CROW

CALUM'S remarks about sermons had the salt of clean wit. Asked what he thought of the sermon one morning, he said, "The preacher did not get beyond harbour headlights."
That was his characterisation of a shallow preacher who hugged the shore when the deep sea was a little way out.
"What did you think of that colleged minister that we had last Sabbath?"
"Ah! our own cock (the uncolleged lay preacher, Kenneth Ross) crows far bonnier!"
"How did you like the Rev. So-and-So?"
"Och for him! He never lifted the latch to enter my door."
"But was your house fit for the minister to enter?"
"Fit! Why, the Holy Spirit dwells in it, and surely it's fit for the minister!"

GRAVE

A YOUTH once sat on a Shawbost grave, clapping reverentially and affectionately. When asked by a friend whose grave it was, he said it was Calum's.
Calum had some time before said to a friend, "Your wife will die first, then you, and will be buried here. I shall die shortly after you, and also be buried here."
All of which happened.
In his old age friends in Stornoway clubbed together to support this dear saint, and they made all arrangements for a paid attendant to give her undivided care to him in his closing days.
The sky was in glow as his sun sank red in the west. How easy and natural the translation to Heaven of this unique man of God. There is a beautiful headstone on his grave in the memory of every Lewisman whose thoughts go back to the saints of the Island. This paper is intended to be one of these headstones, and how imperfect is the inscription!