Many years ago someone sent me an anonymous poem titled “The One True Church.” Although considerably longer than most gracEmails, I think its point is worth sharing here.
THE ONE TRUE CHURCH
One Sabbath morn I roamed astray, and asked a Pilgrim for the way: “O tell me, whither shall I search, That I may find the one true Church?”
He answered, “Search the world around; The one true Church is never found. Yon ivy on the abbey wall, Makes fair the falsest Church of all.”
But, fearing he had told me wrong, I cried, “Behold the entering throng!” He answered, “If a Church be true, It hath not many, but a few.”
Still following where the highway led, Till elms made arches overhead, We saw a spire and weathercock, And snow-white church upon a rock —
A rock, where centuries before, Came sea-tossed pilgrims to the shore. My sandals straightway I unbound, Because the place was holy ground.
I cried, “One church at last I find, that fetters not the human mind.” “This church,” said he, “is like the rest; For all are good, but none is best.”
Then far from every church we strayed, Save Nature’s pillared aisles of shade. The squirrels ran to see us pass, And God’s sweet breath was on the grass.
I challenged all the creeds, and sought What truth, or lie, or both, they taught. I asked, “Had Augustine a fault?” The Pilgrim gazed at heaven’s high vault, And answered, “Can a mortal eye Contain the sphere of all the sky?”
I said, “The circle is too wide.””God’s truth is wider!” he replied. “Though Augustine was on his knee, He saw how little he could see;
Though Luther sought with burning heart, He caught the glory but in part; Though Calvin opened wide his soul, He comprehended not the whole. Not Luther, Calvin, Augustine, Saw visions such as I have seen.”
While yet he spake, a rapture stole Through all my still inquiring soul. I looked upon His holy brow, Entreating, “Tell me, who art THOU?”
But such a splendor filled the place, I knew it was the Lord’s own face! I was a sinner, and afraid! I knelt in dust, and thus I prayed: “O Christ, the Lord! end Thou my search, And lead me to the one true Church.”
He spake as never man may speak — “The one true Church thou shalt not seek, Seek thou, forevermore, instead, To find the one true Christ, its Head!” The Lord then vanished from my sight, And left me standing in the light.
– Poems of Dawn (1915)