"The Gate," by Stuart Maxwell Hawkins

About the author: "Stuart Maxwell Hawkins' first major poem, a satire of school life, got him dismissed from school at age fifteen. Some of the teachers didn't think it was funny.

As a result, Mr. Hawkins took a year off from school, and utilizing his musical ability, immediately started a career in show business [vaudeville]. He returned to high school the following year, got his diploma and later squeezed in some college credits, spending his summers on tour with traveling repertoire companies. He spent the first part of his life as an actor and entertainer, switching professions at mid-life for a more stable existence as a newspaperman.

After his two sons and a daughter were raised, he switched horses again to become a full time writer and composer. His poetry and stories have appeared in west coast periodicals and some of his songs were written and performed in musical revues which Mr. Hawkins produced.--From Back Book Jacket of "The Music of Thought," a Collection of poems and songs by S.M.H.

Stuart Maxwell Hawkins was a wonderful, Christian, creatively-gifted man, married to a loving wife for many years, while raising a family for part of those golden years. In his book, "Think On These Things," he acknowedged, however, his own short-comings in a most touching way, I think, when he said (I believe, reflecting on his own mistakes as a father): "Are we looking for faults or truth? We will find what we are looking for. The same can be said of a child's attitude toward his parents. God said, 'Honor your parents.' Satan says, 'Hate your parents.' Parents are human and make mistakes. But to be wanted and raised by loving parents who have done their best for twenty years, and then to cast them off like garbage because of their occasional lapses into humanness, is not only a gross error of judgment but the sin of breaking one of God's commandments, which can only lead to problems. Only Jesus can make the difference and free us from such a predicament."

The author has written other books, such as: "Think on These Things," "Again the Song," "God is My Father-in-Law," "Sometimes We Remember."

"The Gate" is the nightmare experience of a man who took the wrong road, the broad highway, in life that everyone else was traveling, and even when it seemed too late to turn back, he persisted, and somehow got back to the gate he should have gone through in the first place if he really wanted life, not death.

Perhaps the author is admitting he took a wrong route in life, but turned back in the knick of time. Who hasn't taken the wrong wrong at some point? Maybe you, Reader, are on the wrong road right now, and don't realize it or are denying it as best you can. But don't wait until it really is too late to decide to turn back! Millions, uncountable millions, do that (they try to turn around at the very end of the road, where it drops off into darkness and fire). Stuart, or even ourself in the poem, almost doesn't make it back. In real life, of course, there comes a "too late," and to risk it is to fall in into it, inextricably, with no chance then to change course--which is the fate of most all people, good or evil, in this fallen world. We all know the little "too lates"--we didn't visit or call the person or friend or loved one when we could have, and they pass away or move away, and it is too late then to do what we knew we should have done! We might skip spending time with loved ones or children, and then they grow up, and are gone, and it is again too late, those opportunities have passed forever from our grasp. We might have given something of ourselves to someone who really was in need of a loving touch--but it was too inconvenient, we thought, or there was a better time.

But the time to do it passes--we have no second chance to do it--and again "too late" stares us in the face. We might have forgiven someone who wronged us, we thought--and restored the relationship quite possibly--but the person is gone, passed away, or completely out of touch with us--and again a "too late" that will nag us to our grave. This doesn't have to be, Reader! Now is the day of salvation and opportunity, says the Lord. Do it now--and let the "too lates" pass without coming to roost forever. It will make all the difference. And, fior those of us who have to live with "too lates," don't add to to the list! Make a change now.

There are things you and I can do to possibly shorten the list, or keep it from lengthening at least! If we chance, from the heart to the outside, our behavior will show it, and everyone will notice too. It can be done with Jesus's help and forgiveness--no other way really works as well. We can also warn others about "too lates".

Send a card and flowers now, send that letter now, or, better, go visit the person--go to the loved one, to the shut-in sick person, to the grandparent, to the parent--or at leas call and tell the other person you care about them.

It will not matter how much at the end how much you have in your bank account, or how many BMW's set in your garage, for whether you have a yacht in the marina, or how many designer clothes hang in your closet-- but it will matter how many "too lates" you avoided, and, if you have some, how many you avoided by doing the right thing instead. A wise man said, "The end of a thing is better than its beginning." Greeks observed that a rich man like King Croesus later ended in a terrible way--so what good was the happiness he had when it ended so badly for him? We can have a good ending--for the end cannot be avoided. What kind of end will it be? That is our own choice. Let's make it a wise one, by taking the gate to the narrow way now.--Ed.

Worn and weary and teary eyed

I came to the gate where the way was wide

And I dropped my burden to step inside

And sweep along with the human tide

That filled the portals from side to side

A man may see what another sees

and skim along like a summer breeze

When the way is easy and meant to please

So I wandered along the way with ease

Until I stumbled and reached my knees

Then over my shoulder I saw the star

Back where the gates were still ajar

And then I knew if I went too far

That I'd be down where the others are

Watching the gateman drop the bar

Onto my feet I turned and fled

And I fought the crowd till my blood ran red

And I raised my eyes on high and said

"Help me God or I'll lie here dead"

And a voice replied "You have made your bed"

Filled with panic I ran and fought

But the way was steeper than I had thought

But lest my struggle should come for naught

In sight of the prize that I now sought

I leaped for the gate and my fingers caught

My skin stetched white but I only knew

That my hand would not be denied its due

And it clung for life till my veins stood blue

Then letting my waning strength renew

With one last effort I pulled me through

And there at last on solid ground

I watched the sky spin round and round

I fell to weep without a sound

And when at last the dark I found

I woke to find my wounds were bound

I raised me up and I knelt to pray

Then taking my burden from where it lay

I shouldered its weight without delay

For Hell had forfeited one more day

That I might enter the narrow way

And as I wandered, I blessed each stone

That turned my foot or bruised my bone

And though I knew I could not atone

I also knew I was not alone

I had fought my fight, I was heading home


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