O God, make the door of this house wide enough
to receive all who need human love and fellowship,
narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and strife.
Make its threshold smooth enough
to be no stumbling block to children or to straying feet,
but rugged and strong enough to turn back the tempter's power.
God make the door of this house the gateway to Thine eternal kingdom.
Attributed to the Door of St. Stephen's, London
I tried to find which St. Stephens, London, but there are many. Perhaps the point is not the geography, but the philosophy. What kind of love does it take to 'receive all who need human love and fellowship'? That would take more time and energy than most of us are willing to commit. And the next line: envy, pride, and conflict are able to slip through the tiniest crack we leave unattended. We not only let these unsavory characters through the doors of our hearts and homes, but also we often feed them - like cats - so that they keep coming back to take up residence with us daily. We nurture our pet sins with our own justifications for why we do what we do and wonder why we cannot seem to change. Next, I picture a worn threshold with no impediment to the young, the unsure, or the unbeliever - a welcoming, inviting place.
I am still looking for this St. Stephens. I want to know the place with such a door! And one day I expect to be worn thin in places myself. I want to be used up, stretched wide, and, at the end, spent in the business of loving others.
We had a word for that in Monticello: plumb give-out.