"AMEN" OF LEWS
WRITTEN BY THE REV. NORMAN C. MACFARLANE IN 1924
THE SEER OF SHAWBOST
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.
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.
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.
ONCE he met
a friend travelling through Shawbost to the village of Bragar. Calum asked him
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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!"
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!