So we all think we are the knockers. We stand around this hermitically sealed cell, pounding at it, trying to find cracks and openings, and painting doors on it in the hope that maybe, just maybe, wishing, or talking or thinking about being in there will make it happen. Like magic. Maybe.
That’s what we think, anyway. And in this cell, the secrets of the universe. Riches, youth, health, life, happiness…guarded by a tremendously wise (maybe senile) and extremely old man, or maybe a woman. There’s a general consensus about a beard, anyway. So we keep rapping at the window and tapping at the door (the one we painted. Keep up.)
And inside this cell, unbeknownst to us, this guy is looking at a chain, never-ending and hopelessly convoluted, a chain of cages.
He tries to open them, but their inhabitants rail at him to go away, cling to the gilded cages of their prison cells. The very bars are precious to them.
He tries, and tries. He suffers in the trying. So he does a thing completely unexpected.
This guy-not so very old-looking, by the way, for all his white beard, does something incredible, impossible. In the very midst of these tangles of metal, he places a man. A child is born. A man created from nothing, and borne by one as enslaved as the rest of us. His genetic code would be very interesting, I expect. At least we know his blood is red.
How do we know this? This man lives among the cages, but never within them. Everyone he meets tries to impose a cage upon him, a few bars at the very least, but he declines, and continues to walk among the cells. Finally, a cage is thrust upon him, black and sick, and wrought with pain -a cage bare of gilt, but made instead, of death. That’s how we know the blood is red. He steps into this thing willingly, this night, this hell of hatred and badness and lack of hope.
And, calling out to the one who made him, he escapes this cage. Escapes and destroys.
And he walks between the cages again, invisible until he is at the door-for someone who can deny death can easily deny sight-he comes to every cell in turn and knocks. Politely, gently, and keeps coming back. Most don’t hear his knock. Some do. And some even let him in.
And he comes and eats with them. He leads them out, into the wide hermitage, and the cages vanish, blown, crushed, burned and washed away, not a trace remaining.
I’d like to say we rejoice as soon as this happens, and keep rejoicing.
The truth is that we mourn for the lives we’d lived.
But soon we find ourselves knocking with him, on the doors of other cages. Because pity for others still trapped as we once were. Trapped by their own doing, fills us.
Because these people build their own cages, and build cages for each other. They lovingly craft locks too. They spend days and years on bigger, better, shinier…bars. And they forget about the door.
Only when they hear this knock do they remember that the doors exist…do they realise that they can come out, and that others can come in. That locks and bolts, and bars and chains do nothing good. And only then do they realise that they don’t need their cages anymore.
They come to live in the hermitage with the old man -after all, he’s the one we’ve wanted to know so desperately since we began.
And in that cell is fellowship. And the old man with every secret. And the greatest of these secrets is his love. The best-kept too. Because the world bars it out. It’s not willing to accept its existence, this true, pure love. But the name is kept, and because it carries some good “ness”, is kept to label lesser things.
And in rejecting this love, the world misses out on the freedom it brings, to those who live with the old, bearded man in his cell.
All the world is in his cell, but they don’t know it.
So, when I knock on your door, hear me. When I call you by name, hear in the air I breathe, the breath itself, a life that is purely given, not one jot of it earned. And join with me in welcoming he who denied, overcame, and destroyed death. Let us walk away from gilded misery, and towards peace, and hope and joy. Let us walk together.
I have one last word to speak to you. You’ve heard it before, and will again. But hopefully this time it will mean something to you.
Hopefully, even just this once, you see it truly is everything. And I mean that. I believe it. It is all.