Monday, March 06, 2006

The strait gate

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

--Matthew 7


This passage was the topic du jour at my Sunday school class yesterday. So I drew a graphic like this on the white board:

I love the double meaning of the word pronounced /strāt/. It’s both “straight” as in not crooked, and “strait” as in hard to get through. Think: the Straits of Magellan. I think both definitions have meaning here.

It’s occurring to me that the strait path looks long. We have to be consistent and unidirectional to really do it right. But it’s an optical illusion. On the other path, the wide path, each particular wandering is short. It’s like we’re saying, “Oh, I’ll try this! Or I’ll try this!” (We were thinking about things like smoking or drugs or sex or whatever in our Sunday school class.) And we wander about from thing to thing. But each leg of that wandering, while short in itself, adds up to a much longer path to the good stuff. Not to mention a great deal of confusion.

The path to goodness may be shorter, but it is also both difficult and direct. So we talked about what makes it so difficult. We thought about the unselfishness required, the spiritual understanding, the willingness. But then we came up with one thing that really stalls a lot of us out: self-awareness.

The strait path requires us to recognize and face up to our faults as we go. The wide path allows us to skirt our faults and delay growth.

I know that facing up to my faults is generally unpleasant, because they do indeed seem to be mine. After all, I’ve been the one acting them out and indulging in them. I even have the impression sometimes that I’m the source of evil, that I myself somehow have power to conduct and perpetrate bad. This sympathy with evil and taking it on as a part of myself makes it difficult to face, because there’s always an element of either self-justification or self-condemnation associated with it.

It’s when I come to the realization that everything I thought was me was really ignorance that I can face it. When I realize I didn’t know any better, but now I do so I can move on. I can release it and see that it was never really me to begin with. It had always been a muddy overlay, like a spattered cellophane wrapper, that had never been a part of me. I can peel it off and step out of it.

Okay, but still, this is hard. It’s hard to systematically face our cellophane faults because we hate to admit we were taken in in the first place. But we’ve *got* to. It’s critical to moving forward, or you might say upward, on the path. Otherwise, we’re just bumbling around, delaying upward movement, and getting further entrenched in the mud.

Divine Love didn’t create *any* faults. Peeling them off, one by one, and destroying them allows us to emerge from our cellophane cocoons into the light of joy and life. And then we find, we have wings.


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1 Comments:

At 3/07/2006 09:00:00 AM, Anonymous Marc said...

Hi Laura

One of the ways I have found that is helpful is to write down blockc or "faults" or negative thoughts on a list even commenting on them as to how I feel and then taking that list and throwing it away as a way of trying to let go of them so that a new path can be cleared.

Marc

 

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