Enter through the narrow gate. Matthew 7:1
I’ve been thinking about all the narrow paths
we walked on the pilgrimage in Rome and Florence and Assisi,
down the alleys and crooked streets and up the many steps and stairways.
I’ve been thinking about all the narrow gates,
through the security checkpoints and into the churches and museums,
and about the Holy Doors, at St. Peters and St. Paul Outside the Walls
and all the others, which were narrow, too, massive and high but narrow.
All the lines we stood in. All the squeezing to a point.
I’ve been thinking about the tight schedule we were on, the narrow margins
of time we were given, and necessarily—all of this was necessary.
If we didn’t come back on time, we missed the bus.
If we didn’t stay on the narrow route, we didn’t get where we were going.
I’ve been thinking about the eyes of the David, in Florence,
of their great intensity, and focus, and determination—and of the intensity
and balance and poise of his whole magnificent body,
and how it’s only this focus and this narrowing, this great coming to a point,
that makes it possible for him to kill Goliath with his single stone–
and of the intensity of Michelangelo in his making of this glorious thing,
his great single-mindedness, blow by blow and cut by cut, over years.
We are all wandering and lost, as Dante was wandering and lost
in the dark wood in Florence, when he was exiled,
and it’s because we are too open-minded,
are listening to too many other voices, are taking too much in–
fiddling with our cell phones beneath that great luminous form,
who is David, who is Christ–and we have to stop
and raise our heads, we have to stop and make a choice,
decide on a way, who to trust and who to follow, again and again.
Then everything opens up again.
We come through the narrow door and suddenly we’re inside
a magnificent church, a vast, echoing nave.
God narrowed himself down so radically he became a man,
a baby in a manger, a criminal on a cross, a body in a tomb,
and through that narrow wooden box comes a whole universe—
on that narrow wooden cross everything was ripped open and sanctified—
the stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty
and a Spirit who is love and a Spirit who is hope
suffuses every molecule and every quark and all the trillion trillion cells.
We make this choice and we eat this one small circle of bread
and the whole Parousia is ours, the end of the old world,
and the beginning of the new.
This is what we find when we get through the narrow gate.
This is what we get to: to glory, to beauty.
And all the while, whether we are lost or found, scattered or focused,
God himself is looking at us, intently.
His weight on his back leg. His right arm loose. Ready.
But to save us. To love us.
God himself is narrowing his focus, to you and to me.
Each one of us, somehow,
in his marvelous grace, is the point He comes to.