The mystical painter and poet, William Blake, wrote these words in his poem entitled, “Jerusalem.”
I GIVE you
the end of a golden string;
Only wind it into a ball,
It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate,
Built in Jerusalem’s wall.…
A brief verse, but filled with clues about a life of spirit! The life of spirit is inaugurated often by someone giving us something. In this case, Blake is offering a golden string. Perhaps someone—a professor, a teacher, a pastor, an artist or parent—gave you a question to answer or an answer to question that led you to search. In my life, my sacred journey began when, as a child just about five years old, my mother told me there is a God. I remember that. It planted a seed in my mind and my heart. And I have been winding her golden string handed to me ever since…
The string is golden. Can you detect the irony in this? String is so ordinary, such a mundane and coarse thing. It is, in a word, cheap. But Blake is offering a golden string. Gold is valuable, of course. What is ordinary or common has, in his poem, taken on enormous value and importance. This has the aroma of Jesus’ parables. A man finds a treasure in a field and sells all he owns in order to buy the field. Leaven is small but it leavens an entire loaf. A mustard seed of faith can move a mountain. But too often we judge our spiritual lives by our society’s standards. Big is better, more is best, the right brand name is preferable and so forth. This is one reason, I suggest, that people flock to preachers and churches that push those buttons of prosperity and wealth. But Blake understands in a profound way what the bible knows: a life of spirit begins when the common or ordinary takes on the gold of a spiritual journey. The woman at the well offered a cup of water to a man she didn’t know. He offered her the water of life that would quench her soul.
In Baptist life and thought, faith comes by hearing the Word of God. In other words we are given the Word, twined together like string and dipped into gold. Wind them into a ball and they “will lead you in at Heaven’s gate.”
Worship is a gate. It is an opening, a threshold, a passage-way. From what to what? From the world of the mundane to the kingdom of the holy. From the huts of our wilderness wandering into the Temple of Being. Wind the ball, begin your sacred journey… ~see you this Sunday in what is at the surface level a middle school auditorium but on deeper inspection is a gate, a golden threshold into the life of spirit.