“The Narrow Way”

I’m not usually interested in poetry. Figurative language doesn’t make much sense to me. I’m a straightforward, literal person; I prefer for someone to just tell me what they mean, rather than use fancy techniques to make me figure it out.

Recently, I saw a quote posted on a blog:

“But he that dares not grasp the thorn
Should never crave the rose.”

I was intrigued, so I searched online to find out more. (If it’s not obvious why I like the quote, look at the title of my blog.) I discovered that the quote is actually a line from a poem written by Anne Brontë.

“The Narrow Way”

Believe not those who say
The upward path is smooth,
Lest thou shouldst stumble in the way,
And faint before the truth.

It is the only road
Unto the realms of joy;
But he who seeks that blest abode
Must all his powers employ.

Bright hopes and pure delights
Upon his course may beam,
And there, amid the sternest heights
The sweetest flowerets gleam.

On all her breezes borne,
Earth yields no scents like those;
But he that dares not grasp the thorn
Should never crave the rose.

Arm—arm thee for the fight!
Cast useless loads away;
Watch through the darkest hours of night,
Toil through the hottest day.

Crush pride into the dust,
Or thou must needs be slack;
And trample down rebellious lust,
Or it will hold thee back.

Seek not thy honor here;
Waive pleasure and renown;
The world’s dread scoff undaunted bear,
And face its deadliest frown.

To labor and to love,
To pardon and endure,
To lift thy heart to God above,
And keep thy conscience pure;

Be this thy constant aim,
Thy hope, thy chief delight;
What matter who should whisper blame,
Or who should scorn or slight?

What matter, if thy God approve,
And if, within thy breast,
Thou feel the comfort of His love,
The earnest of His rest? 

The Meaning

Remember what I said at the beginning about poetry? Well, this poem caught my attention, and I was struck by it! I connect with the message Brontë presents because it’s one that resonates with me deeply. When Brontë refers to “the narrow way,” do you know what she’s referring to? Her poem is about the road to heaven!

In Scripture, Jesus uses the phrases “narrow gate” and “narrow door” when He speaks about the path to eternal life:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:23-24).

If anyone tries to tell you that the road to heaven is “smooth” and easy, they’re not telling the truth. (Never listen to anyone who contradicts the Word of God!) In order to experience the beauty and joy of heaven, we must first face the challenges of this life. As we “watch through the darkest hours of night” and “toil through the hottest day,” we know that there is a significant purpose for our efforts and struggles.

We must be armed for the “fight” – the spiritual battle of good vs. evil that’s happening right now. We must resist temptation and sin as we strive to lead virtuous lives.

We are each called to give our heart to the Lord and remain focused on Him at all times. Our “constant aim” must be to love, forgive and persevere through our sufferings. There’s no need to be concerned about what others say or do to us. If our conscience is “pure” and we follow His will, that’s all that matters. The world cannot provide true peace, “rest” or consolation – only God can.

We must be willing to face the “thorns” of this life if we “crave the rose.” We must carry our cross, not try and take the easy way out. Then, we may enter the “blest abode” and experience the beauty and joy of heaven; this is our greatest hope.

I feel that I was meant to see the quote that day… I’m still no expert on poetry, but I believe that I understand Brontë’s words (most of them anyway). All Christians can identify with the sentiments of her poem: perseverance and hope. Brontë’s words support what Jesus tells us in Scripture and encourage us to be steadfast in our pursuit of eternal life.

Let us pray that we may enter through the narrow way!

Your Turn

Do you have a reaction to the poem or my reflection? Feel free to comment and submit feedback. I also invite you to comment on any and all of my posts. This blog isn’t just about me – it’s about you.

(I prefer for everyone’s privacy to be protected. Please be conscious of this when commenting. Thank you!)

“Never forget that the road to Heaven is the Way of the Cross. Jesus has called us to follow Him, bearing the Cross as He did.” ~ St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

8 thoughts on ““The Narrow Way”

  1. I interpret this as a message to accept our days and moments when life is not ideal. Complaining and worrying and being anxious is negating the way life is: thorns and all. Granted, it is easy to say when this when things go well and not little “thorns” come my way. Don’t sweat the small stuff… and it’s all small stuff. Our challenge is responding with Iove to the people who may get under our skin, and loving those do not look like us, sound like us. For me, the poem asks me to go ahead and grasp the thorns of humanity that society shins and friends may question my judgement. I think God wants me to go deeper into loving my enemies, the hungry, the unclothed. The poem calls me to enter that narrow road for Advent and beyond.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your reflection! You touch on aspects of our faith that often challenge us. The “thorns” we encounter are meant to help us grow, if we allow them to. I hadn’t thought about that when I initially read the poem…

      Like

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