What is it about an entryway that attracts attention? The drawbridge to a castle…the portal to a time warp…the gateway between terra, heaven or hell.
When mom was dying, I could feel a temporal gateway opening. It was the last day of the school year, and I just knew I had to take her peonies before I went to school. But it was when I walked in her room that I could sense daddy; it smelled like him, and I knew something had changed. A gate had opened.
Gates don’t have to be physical.
From the time I was little, I’ve always seen a white picket fence with a gate in front of my house. I knew exactly what it would look like. Pointed edges softened by flowers with colorful blossoms that decorated the inside and outside of the fence, while wandering plants would grow between the boards and wind their woody stems around the braces. Watching all those early sitcoms of the 1950’s – Leave it Beaver and Dennis the Menace, surely had an influence. Or maybe…it was the Andy Hardy/Judy Garland musicals (that I could never get enough of watching because we didn’t have DVD or DVR capability) which just got stuck in my dream files. Whatever it was, that was my mental picture…a white fence, surrounded by flowers and a flagstone path leading through a garden to my front porch. It never changed, but now I realize that I never really wanted it enough to make the dream an actuality.
Gates are like that….someone has to build them.
Poets and authors use gates in their writings. Symbolically, it stands for that new beginning, death, an escape to a safe place, something that prohibits our advancement, protection from the outside world, dimensional rifts, time lapses…but somehow, the idea of opening a gate to walk up to my home, doesn’t seem to have the attraction that it once did. I like the open vistas of gardens greeting my friends and family. The freedom that a gateless entryway expresses, suits me better than a picket fence. My flagstone path is still there, but no longer in a straight line; diamond shapes and side placements of the stones curve and wind through lots of gardens and add a touch of whimsy to the grown-up fairae gardens that surround my home.
I wonder if when I was younger it was a symbol of my safe place?
Yet…that hole in the fence still beckons. Gateways open possibilities in the mind. Doors open into a house of dreams. An arbor covered walkway beseeches the wanderer to sit and rest. A locked gate hidden behind an overgrown vine dares the passerby to rattle the knob. But just what is it that entices us to want to walk through them?
I started early… wandering through those holes. Sometimes, I cut my own hole, forcing my will upon those restrictions in my life. Sometimes, there was a portal that took me places I should never have traveled. Sometimes, I squirmed through a gate that was actually beneficial; a drawbridge that allowed me to cross the moat. And sometimes, it was just a hole in the fence – neither good nor bad – just an small ingress to someplace different.
As I enter into this “senior” stage of my life, I am more aware of gateways. Why is that? Am I realizing certain gates may be closing to me professionally and personally? Am I beginning to look for portals into different dimensions? Exits from one world to the next? Or am I just becoming aware of all the entryways that have been within my all too narrow vision?
Shortly after Sandi Patty had an affair outside of her marriage and fell from the grace of many Christians, she produced an album that I immediately fell in love with. It was called Voyages. In it, she sings of the struggles of everyman and everywoman as we walk the paths that our feet have chosen. One song in particular is called:
“The Little Narrow Gate”
There’s a little narrow gate
At the top of a hill
And it beckons my heart to enter in
And follow where it will
Oh, where it will
And the path that leads through this gate of dreams
Takes me away
With the wind at my back
The journey before me
I set my feet on the road that leads to life
And take the hand of the One
Who’ll be my companion
For He will show me the place to begin
All of my life I’ve been waiting
Could this be the place I can start?
(Matt 7:13-14/Luke 13;24/Is 35:8)
The gateway to the Garden of Eden was locked long ago. Jesus knocks at our doorway seeking to find entrance. St. Peter stands at the gateway to heaven with his golden keys. A path to somewhere paved in gold? Or maybe it is just as simple as getting back to where it all started…a garden where a couple stood proudly, close to the Trinity that created them, and excited about what this world would become with their input. Maybe, we just hope to find the answer that lies beyond, when we open our eyes to the entrance of a new day. Or maybe… it’s just what it is – my love of a white picket fence, and a gate surrounded by the aromas of a multitude of flowers.
Whatever – I may not build a gate, but I’m ready for the next gateway of life and can’t wait to see where it leads.