Still in the midst of grappling with Dante’s Divine Comedy, Dreher ponders a lesson from the poet’s relationship to Beatrice – that she was part of Dante’s own unique, faltering path to God:
Reflecting on this, I thought about the ways God has used to draw me away from my own follies, and back towards Him. As a matter of fact, over the past few months, He has used Dante. Many years ago, He used the beauty of a Gothic cathedral. I can think of times in my life in which the sorts of things that would have struck many others as indicative of God’s presence meant nothing to me. Yet things that others couldn’t care for, or couldn’t see, proved to be icons of God, and doorways to the Way, for those with the eyes to see and the will to step through them. Or to be more precise, doorways for me, if I dared to go through them.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much less willing to judge people’s paths to unity with God, only because I know how peculiar my own has been, and how God pursued me in my particularity. This is not to say that I’m a universalist, but it is to say that I’m far less inclined to say, “No, God does not work like that.” After all, what a scandal it is that the Most High condescended to become one of us, and not just one of us, but an itinerant preacher and healer in the far reaches of the Roman Empire. You never know. There are false goods, and false gods; not everyone who thinks he is pursuing God, or has found God, really has done so. This requires discernment. Still, reflecting on my own long and winding road, filled with false starts and detours and oddities, I can detect the signs directing me to Himself that God placed on the path, signs that others could not have read, or would have denied, but through which He revealed Himself to me, myself, and I.