One day I was cleaning out my files and I came across a verse by the poet e.e. cummings:
“To be nobody/but/yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
I like this so much that I had it laminated and it now hangs in my classroom. I figure it’s a message high school kids can’t hear often enough – I know I surely needed it. (OK, still need it.) It wasn’t until I passed my 30th birthday that I became aware of a glorious possibility: Maybe I wasn’t weird. Maybe I was me.
The poem also makes me think about Jesus’ exhortation to choose the “narrow way”. Often Christians interpret this way too literally. Such an interpretation gives rise to a sense that the Christian life is no fun; it must be dominated by constant acts of self-denial. One must put off one’s own dreams and desires until the next life – if he/she cannot distinguish them completely. No wonder there seem to be so many atheists around these days!
I think the “narrow way” Jesus is talking about has a lot more to do with the e.e. cummings poem then with that literal interpretation. It’s about Being Yourself – no more, no less. is is truly a narrow way – in the sense that you’ll meet so few fellow travellers along that path.
Such a path is the essence of humility and I think the breeding ground of mercy and compassion. Once you see yourself for who you really are – and embrace that self – it becomes so much easier to embrace the other “holy messes” you meet along life’s journey.
Given the lack of travellers along this narrow road, you may find yourself spending more time travelling solo than the average bear, however. But those travellers who you do meet up with will change your life irrevocably for the better.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)