by Marjorie George
In London, some platforms of the underground train system are curved while the train rails are straight, creating an unsafe gap for passengers as they step between the train and the platform. At these stops, when passengers enter or exit the train they hear a recorded announcement and see a phrase painted on the platform threshold: “Mind the gap.”
The phrase has been adopted by dozens of transport systems around the world, but it has also moved beyond utilitarian use into the realm of philosophy in books, music, and theater, usually to express the divide between generations, classes, or social policy.
We are a people who live in the gap, not only the gap between the inauguration of God’s Kingdom and its final realization, but also the gap of our own spiritual poverty. The gap between our aspirations to holiness and the reality of our inability to become fully holy. With the Apostle Paul, we do the things we shouldn’t do and don’t do the things we should do. Our Prayer Book confession makes provision for this by including “what we have done, and what we have left undone” in our petition for forgiveness.
We fall short of the glory of God, we fall short of the expectations of others, we fall short of our own ambitions, we quickly use up our pitiful little stock of patience and tolerance and loving-kindness toward ourselves and others.
Some of us try to fill in the gap by doing stuff or praying more or promising to do better next time. And the distance between the train and the platform remains unmoved.
Then we reach out our hands, and God reaches out his hands and pulls us over the gap into safety. And we say with the psalmist:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul
And forget not all his benefits.
He forgives all your sins
And heals all your infirmities;
He redeems your life from the grave
And crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;
He satisfies you with good things,
And your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.
(Psalm 103: 1-5). Read the rest of Psalm 103.