Real Discernment Music: ‘At Your Gate’ by Mike Mangione

by Sister Julie Ann on February 1, 2011

Musician Mike Mangione

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature Mike Mangione's 'At Your Gate', real discernment music for anyone at the edge of making a decision.

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity invite you to listen to real discernment music… At Your Gate by Mike Mangione. Mike Mangione & The Union is a Midwest touring group that combines a folk-rock sound with an orchestrated string section, soulful vocals and literate sensibility.

To purchase song click here.

About Mike Mangione & The Union

The band’s previous album, Tenebrae, has received favorable press from all corners of the country, including the honor of being an All Music Guide Album Pick, while Blurt refers to their “tearstained folk, Memphis-styled gospel and bluesy-flavored pop” as “luminous.” Their new album, Offering, will be released in spring 2011.

Comment from Mike about ‘At Your Gate’  

I wrote this song after I read a book reflecting on the Song of Songs.  At Your Gate is about a stepping stone. It’s about getting to an edge in one’s life, wherever or whatever that may be, looking over to the other side and yearning to cross.  The song rests in that ache of decision.  History, comfort and pain, future, uncertainty and promise all ringing in a moment.  Should I continue in my ways arranging the old or should I take a leap towards this new and uncertain direction?  What do I want, and what does my heart say? Its work, faith, parenting, marriage, doing the right thing, correcting, loving, bending, breaking…it’s all of the above.   

Mike Mangione & The UnionA year ago I was in Hawaii with a friend playing shows.  My friend, an avid jumper, led me to a waterfall deep within the rainforest.  A little to the side of the pouring water was a ledge where brave souls would take their leap towards the green spring below.  After two or three times of watching my friend indulge himself I found myself standing on that slick, cold rock ledge looking down at the water.  From the ground level, the pool looked inviting and reserved, but from 60 feet up somehow it lost its allure.  My friend turned to me, looked me in the eyes and said “I will not pressure you to do this, you can turn now and I will not be disappointed in anyway.  I realize this is not for everyone.  Now, if you don’t mind, im gonna jump”.  He turned, pushed off and dropped so fast from my luscious green surroundings.

I stayed standing, tightly grasping a tree behind me.  For a couple of minutes I stood with my head racing, going through picture after picture of all the possible scenarios.  I then realized, it is not the fall that I am afraid of but rather how it will end.  How will it end? Pain? Joy? A sting on my back from overcompensating in one direction?  I could turn, go back down the cliff and forget about it.  My friend said he would not be mad. We can continue hiking and then later go out to dinner.  The truth is I knew if I turned around and walked down that cliff I would never truly walk away from that moment.  I knew that for the rest of my life I would be hounded by the question, “what would have happened?”  I also knew that if I did jump I would never ask myself “what if I didn’t and walked down the cliff?”

It is not the fall that is frightening; it’s the uncertainty of how it will end.  The leap of faith is not a faith in the fall, its faith in how things will turn out.  I then realized how amazing it would be to be free falling, you know, assuming I land smoothly in the water.  Wow!  “Ok, let’s say the landing is great, smooth and painless, I have an opportunity to fall without fear!”  I then started getting excited by the thought of weightlessness, of floating for those few seconds with the green world blurred around me.  What a joy that could be!  For those few seconds I would have nothing to do but focus on the joy of my falling, of gravity in effect, of the natural world working on me.  I wanted to feel that joy.  I wanted to feel that freedom from falling, that freedom through falling.  I yearned to experience it.  As I stood there, the yearning grew more and more, louder and louder to the point where I could no longer take it.  I made a decision.  With a deep breath I bent my right knee, stepped my left foot out and let go of the tree.  I was falling and it was blissful.



34 thoughts on “Real Discernment Music: ‘At Your Gate’ by Mike Mangione”

  1. William says:

    I think of a repentent sinner who is standing at the gates waiting for Jesus to take him or her back and meet him or her outside the gate.

  2. Ashley says:

    that we are not in control. that God is. this is important, because in our business it is easy to forget.

  3. Erin says:

    it made me think of decisions in my life, to turn away from past mistakes and choose to accept what the Lord wants of me.

  4. Renee says:

    As I listen to this song I think about all that I may have done wrong, but am given hope that God will still welcome me into heaven & forgive me for what I have done.

    Listening to music, especially the lyrics, helps me to talk to God. It is often my starting point to prayer and feeling at peace.

  5. Amanda says:

    Being on the edge of something new. Unsure of how the future is going to turn out and if you are ready to leave it behind.

  6. Lauren says:

    I really liked the part about coming to the gate to be taken in. I really thought alot about surrender and focusing our perspective on God.

  7. MW says:

    I mean not to suggest that God 'wrote' say, the nocturnes of Chopin (that would be unsupportable and heterodox); I do believe, however, that in the act of artistic creation-and in the apprehension and appreciation of it-we somehow reflect or mirror the Lord's own creation of our universe.

  8. NK says:

    As I'm beginning college, like the song says I'm looking for direction and what to do with my life. Music always helps bring me back to reality, out of all the craziness of life.

  9. Thanks for the threads of great discussion on Mike's music. 'At Your Gate' is a jolt of creative expression that moves us to connect our own lives to Mystery.

  10. js says:

    As we make choices in life, we need to base our decisions on God and his ways. If we happen to fall and make the wrong decision, he is always waiting with open arms fo rus to take us back in.

  11. Nick says:

    No matter what I've done, or what I have to deal with, God is here.

  12. Alejandro says:

    This song reflects probably the essence of many people's thoughts; regret, shame, etc.

  13. Megan says:

    The song…you can't compromise with the world and you can't meet God halfway. The ways of the world won't let you go; and will continue to hurt you until you give yourself totally to God and let Him take care of you.

  14. Phil says:

    Reminded me of God's unconditional love. Love more! Music helps explain/articulate certain values in ways words cannot.

  15. TM says:

    The song says to me…when I feel as though I've been beat down and lost I can turn to God.

  16. Steve says:

    The last stanza/verse, where Mike feels the need to harmonize to praise God through music, is how I feel, especially while listening to Christian music. I've been given the talent to play drums which I use to worship God in our Church's worship band. God uses the songs we play each week to somehow teach me lessons in life, through those whom God inspired to write the music.

  17. Sister Monica, novice says:

    I really like this song, both the lyrics and the music. It's an excellent reflection of Song of Songs, and I even see a little of Hosea in there. It makes me think of the continual reconciliation that we all do with God, coming back to Him.

  18. Sister Monica, novice says:

    I keep listening to it, it's such a beautiful song.

  19. Megan says:

    The last stanza reminds me of the importance of praise,and the great joy I feel just singing in praise and adoration of my God.

  20. Thorin says:

    This song made me think about how I have to come back to God even when I feel unworthy and want to give up. Any music that is about God or goodness and virtue that God would approve of (as far as I can tell in my imperfection), be it pop or rock or classical or rap, can make me feel that way.

  21. Catherine says:

    I'm not sure if I would be standing @the gate…or would God be standing waiting for me!

  22. Courtney says:

    Whenever I listen to music, I feel so incredibly small and humble, but also surrounded by something so inutterably beautiful, and I just imagine how much more beautiful God is.

  23. Nicholas says:

    I don't know if this person was still alive or not, but the message I got was either way, I don't want to be just standing there. I want to be IN the gate.

  24. Mario says:

    The struggles of daily life come to mind when I listen to this song. The constant struggle to not only say yes to the Lord, but to give yourself to Him. It won't be easy, but when you do give yourself to the Lord you find happiness.

  25. Spamelacatherine - novice says:

    This is a beautiful song of receptivity, containing the realization of one man once engulfed in his own self-will now standing before the gate, awaiting the Lord, humbly asking to be received. Yet, there lies the paradox. His longing to be received by the Lord is in fact an opening of his own heart to allow the Lord to enter within him; a gift of reception on both sides of the gate. The beauty of Jesus and his call to every individual is that it is a call to relationship. It is a desire from both the individual and the Lord to share in each other’s lives. The Lord initiates the call. Are we willing to approach and stand at his gate with the desire to enter? Are we equally willing to allow the Lord to stand at the gate of our heart and are we able to open it to Him?

  26. Brittany says:

    It is hard to realize when you are doing something wrong, but there are times when you just know. It makes me think of pro-life Sunday and how some choose not to speak about it. It takes a leap of faith and litigation.

  27. Stephanie says:

    As I listened to the song, I was reminded that God comes to meet us wherever we may be spiritually. We may be facing deep struggles with our lives, many of which could try to draw us away from God, but He is always there to meet us when we come back home to Him.

  28. Stephanie says:

    Music has always been very powerful for me. It's something that I can feel deep within me. The messages that the songs deliver often speak to something that I am experiencing in my life, and they can help give me strength.

  29. Father Larry says:

    I should turn back to Christian music as part of my regular personal prayer time.

  30. Fr. Ben says:

    Some thoughts as I listened to the song: the homeless, those who've been hurt in relationships, my own fear at conversion, if I say yes, golly, where might that lead?

  31. MFM says:

    you need to open your heart to Jesus and God

  32. Amanda says:

    I recently had a death in my family. I watched my grandmother stand at the gate and leave us.

  33. LG says:

    God does not make us love HIm. He knocks on our hearts and waits for us to allow Him into our hearts and lives.

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