As I walk around Colonial Williamsburg, I keep stopping to photograph walkways that are slightly obscured. Some are simply a product of overgrown hedges. Some, like the one above, are designed to be shady, cool retreats.
What is it about them that intrigues me so?
First, I suppose, it’s that they’re hidden. They have a secretive quality. Glimpsing them, I feel like I’ve discovered something that others may have overlooked. In this museum of a town, streets are open to pedestrians, as are many garden paths. These look like a passerby has to have inside knowledge just to walk them.
Being hemmed in is also oddly comforting. Protected. Restful. Yes, because of the shade. But also because of the simplicity of the path. There are no decisions to make. There’s only forward.
But, there’s also the fact that they’re paths. And it is in the nature of paths to be leading somewhere. Though there may be a bench halfway through to enjoy the experience, the walkway continues. And these shadowy corridors often contrast to the brightness of what’s ahead.
This all brings me powerfully back to Jesus. He says in Matthew 7:
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
In other places, he identifies himself as both the gate (John 10:7) and the way (John 14:6).
The Christian life, therefore, starts with Jesus and progresses with Jesus. Start to finish, that narrow path to life is all about walking with him.
But I have to be honest. Sometimes I enjoy the refuge of the shade and forget that I’m on a path, that following Jesus is more than just a metaphor. He is actually going someplace.
I came across a verse this morning:
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (Jer. 6:16)
There is the disobedience of outright refusal to start. But there is also the more subtle disengagement of simply sitting down when the Master is still walking.
I know I need to be watchful, especially after this long time of disconnection, that I don’t allow the comfort of being a Christian keep me from moving forward.
Jesus is still going someplace.
Lord, we will walk with you on that narrow path. And though we may enjoy your rest in the shade from time to time, we’ll keep following you.
Reader: Have a favorite shady or secret path you want to tell me about?