Many years ago I remember well the feeling of being excluded. It was a beautiful fresh water lake surrounded by lovely trees in the Northern part of Rhode Island and I was unable to get close to the shore. I did not own property on this lake nor did I know anyone who did. Rhode Island is where I first learned of Right of Ways, places to access either the shoreline, coves, or bays and in this case, lakes. As a commoner, ones ability to access shorelines in Rhode Island, or anywhere for that matter, has much to do with who you know or what your bank account looks like. On this particular lake I knew no one. Therefore I was excluded from a piece of nature I could only appreciate from afar. It bothered me in deep places. Maybe there was Indian in me, a sympathetic ancestral pang of injustice. Regardless, I felt excluded and not happy.
There are many places that I have been in life that have provided me with a rich abundance of visuals. My memory bank is extremely full of beauty, wonder, and awe. I own none of these pieces of property. This feeling of exclusivity is a blip compared to what many folks experience. In my hometown, Barrington RI, the points of access were limited. If I were a property owner of shoreline in Barrington, I, too, would be careful to not allow public access. This coastline is rugged and beautiful and it must be cherished and stewarded well.
Today, fast forward thirty years (why do ever do the math?), my parents and I are taking my children on the Cliff Walk. This publicly accessible walk takes you behind the famed mansions on Bellevue Avenue. Here we look behind gates onto their backyards, beautiful tracts of land abutting the coastline. To dream of living like them is to dream of Twin Valley Coffee on the lawn overlooking the Atlantic while the house secretrary is giving you a rundown of your day and over your shoulder you ask the housekeeper to make sure to water the orchids in the conservatory.
These mansions are opulent, ostentatious, full of wonder, awe and charm. They are also unavailable for me to reside. I have not enough money, reputation, or pull. I am excluded from these man made monuments to fortune and fame.
All of these stately, gorgeous, homes will look like tin-roofed shacks in Haiti on top of one another compared to the dwellings Christ is preparing. Exclusive, yes, Jesus is the only way. There is a gate and the door is His Body. Come all who are weary. On earth I might feel excluded but in light of eternity it is worth every minute.