Matthew 7:13-14 (NRSV)
13 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Matthew was, perhaps, speaking metaphorically about the narrow gate, and the road that is hard that leads to life. However, it is surely true that getting ourselves off the beaten path has deep spiritual benefits. I think of the highways that we drive between cities here in the United States - they are wide, they are smooth, and with my Garmin GPS leading me onward, it is pretty easy to find where I am going. Setting out into the woods to hike amidst trees and rocks and thorns and wild animals is another thing entirely. I think also of the narrow roads in Florence, Italy, where I lived for awhile and the most amazing streets were the ones with terribly bumpy cobblestones and these streets would weave in and out, often depositing the walking pilgrim into an unknown piazza (square). I know that it can be tempting to stay on the wide and easy road, but whether we like it or not, we will all traverse roads that are hard. While I cling to my GPS and the Interstate highways when I drive from state to state, I imagine that the roads that lead to life are smaller, harder, and lead through gates that are narrower. Perhaps this means I should venture off I95, perhaps this means I should take on a spiritual discipline that is difficult for me even though it is not Lent, perhaps it means I need to find my hiking boots and get into the woods!
~The Rev. Peter M. Carey