My favorite Michael Leunig illustration – the most evocative for me – is his The Garden Gate. It accompanies his poem How to Get There:
Go to the end of the path until you get to the gate.
Go through the gate and head straight out towards the horizon.
Keep going towards the horizon.
Sit down and have a rest every now and again,
But keep on going, just keep on with it.
Keep on going as far as you can.
That’s how you get there.
However, in my mind I now also want to link the illustration to the following poem by Victoria Safford. I heard it read by Parker J. Palmer and it just so resonated for me.
The Gates of Hope
“Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope—
Not the prudent gates of Optimism,
Which are somewhat narrower.
Not the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense;
Nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness,
Which creak on shrill and angry hinges
(People cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through)
Nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of
“Everything is gonna’ be all right.”
But a different, sometimes lonely place,
The place of truth-telling,
About your own soul first of all and its condition.
The place of resistance and defiance,
The piece of ground from which you see the world
Both as it is and as it could be
As it will be;
The place from which you glimpse not only struggle,
But the joy of the struggle.
And we stand there, beckoning and calling,
Telling people what we are seeing
Asking people what they see.”
Victoria Safford, the minister of White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church, in Mahtomedi, Minnesota (www.unitarian.org/whitebear), is the author of Walking Toward Morning.