Archive | May, 2014

The Narrow Way

16 May

The Narrow Way

There are two places in the Christian scriptures where “narrow” is written. Both times the word comes from the mouth of Jesus, and in both instances the context concerns entering something. In one place, it’s a “narrow gate”, while in the other it’s a “narrow door”. And in both utterances, Jesus appears to be talking about how to get into the kingdom of God, or the fullness of life. “Narrow” was his description of the entry point; restricted and confined, not broad and easy.
Ever try to get through a really small space with a lot of stuff? Try getting between these two boulders with your backpack, your bed roll, your ice cooler, and your camping stove. It’s hard enough with a wide body, not to mention all the luggage.
Think of all the things we “carry” through our lives…the stuff we hang onto and think we can’t live without. Piled on, stuffed in, sit-on-the-suitcase-to-make-it-close stuff.
Some other words come to my mind when I think about the sacred teachings of my faith, words like “simplicity” or “accumulations”. And then “narrow” begins to make more sense in reference to that entry point to the real fullness of life. You can’t take it with you.
Things – unnecessary possessions, self serving ideals, accumulated trinkets and toys – won’t make it through the narrow door. It appears that the only way to pass through that narrow way is to strip down to bare essentials. And so I ask myself: what is it that I need to leave behind? It’s not an easy question…and there’s not an easy answer.
But the reality remains: the way is narrow.


“I Don’t Know, Either”

8 May

I used to play Jacks when I was a child. Toss a ball into the air, scoop up as many little metal “jacks” as possible before the ball comes down, catch the ball. The more jacks you pick up, the better your score. Easy. At least, it sounds easy.
If you ever played the game, you will recognize that the strange object in the photograph resembles one of those little metal pieces…somewhat. Imagine what the ball must look like!
I don’t know what it is, either. A sculpture, of course, but…of what? About what? So I sat down on a nearby bench and tried to imagine the creative thoughts running through the sculptor’s mind. Stopping long enough to wonder about this bizarre shape, though, turned out to be the best thing that happened that day. While sitting still and paying close attention to the object and its surroundings, I heard the unmistakable song of a Cactus Wren who may have been wondering about this thing, too. The small, gravel rocks rustled behind me and from under a low, green bush a glorious desert lizard strolled lazily into the sun. And on the bush from which he came, delicate little shoots of new growth announced life and offered their beauty to the scene. What started out as pondering this preposterous piece of art turned into a few moments of living harmony. Colors. Sounds. Warm sun. Living creatures. Budding plants. It all came together, and it was good.
I still don’t know what that thing is, but I’m glad it called me to the bench because I might never have seen the quiet expressions of life otherwise.
Benches aren’t just for resting, are they.