Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Needle’s Eye

They bade me come to the House of Prayer,
They said I should find my Saviour there:
I was wicked enough, God wot, at best,
And weary enough to covet rest.

I paused at th’ door with a timid knock:
The People within were a silken flock—
By their scowls of pride it was plain to see
Salvation was not for the likes of me.

The Bishop was there in his lace and lawn,
And the cassocked priest,--I saw him yawn,--
The rich and great and virtuous too,
Stood smug and contented each in his pew.

The music was grand,--the service fine,
The sermon was eloquent,--nigh divine.
The subject was Pride and the Pharisee,
And the Publican, who was just like me.

I smote my breast in an empty pew,
But an usher came and looked me through
And bade me stand beside the door
In the space reserved for the mean and poor.

I left the church in my rags and shame:
In the dark without, One called my name.
“They have turned me out as well,” quoth He,
“Take thou my hand and come fare with me.

“We may find the light by a narrow gate,
The way is steep and rough and strait;
But none will look if your clothes be poor,
When you come at last to my Father’s door.”

I struggled on where’er He led:
The blood ran down from His hand so red!
The blood ran down from His forehead torn.
“Tis naught,” quoth He, “but the prick of a thorn!”

“You bleed,” I cried, for my heart ‘gan quail.
“’Tis naught, ‘tis naught but the print of a nail.”
“You limp in pain and your feet are sore.”
“Yea, yea,” quoth He, for the nails they were four.”

“You are weary and faint and bent,” I cried.
“’Twas a load I bore up a mountain side.”
“The way is steep, and I faint.”
But He: “It was steeper far upon Calvary.”

By this we had come to a narrow door,
I had spied afar. It was locked before;
But now in the presence of my Guide,
The fast-closed postern opened wide.

And forth there streamed a radiance
More bright than is the noon-sun’s glance;
And harps and voices greeted Him—
The music of the Seraphim.

I knew His face where the light did fall:
I had spat in it, in Herod’s Hall,
I knew those nail-prints now, ah, me!—
I had helped to nail Him to a tree.

I fainting fell before His face,
Imploring pardon of His grace.
He stooped and silencing my moan,
He bore me near to His Father’s throne.

He wrapt me close and hid my shame,
And touched my heart with a cleansing flame.
“Rest here,” said He, “while I go and try
To widen a little a Needles’ Eye.”

--Thomas Nelson Page