Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
January 14, 2008
Open a door and step into the unknown
Closed doors shut out the brutal winter cold and wind. And we welcome the sanctuary and safety those wood or metal barriers give. Yes, shut and bolt those doors and you will be safe.
But is there another padlocked door that, instead, keeps you locked in bitter despair and loneliness? Cast your eyes on 19th century artist Holman Hunt's The Light of the World hanging in London's St. Paul's Cathedral and embrace the outpouring of Jesus' love as he stands, knocking, on the door of a heart.
That image, and renderings of that spiritual truth by other artists, tells us the power of the door: It can let love in or keep it out.
Street people in Edmonton's tenderloin know the love that waits behind the Marian Centre door. A hot stew. Packed lunch. A rolled up ball of warm socks. And a welcoming atmosphere.
The apostolate members do not see the homeless folk as broken - most are men and are referred to as Christophers - but wrap them with a hospitality that often loosens the locks on the visitors' isolation. And they share their stories, begin to trust.
The centre has another door - but it is shut. This is the room that allows a visitor to spend 24 hours in that safe space dubbed poustinia (the Russian word for desert). This sanctuary with a bed, Bible and bread and water allows the seeker 24 hours tucked away from the world, a silence to reach out to Jesus, restore their faith and with God's grace, write his words on their heart.
Sure it is hard to do this in this McDonald's society where glitz and glib are too often the passport to success. So we have blinders - blinders that don't let us turn and see doors - some of them shabby, some hidden behind our own fears and misconceptions, some open, but not on our self-imposed path.
Rip off those blinders - or at least take a peak under them - in this new year, step into the unknown and perhaps experience an unexpected joy in faith.
Come and open the door at the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples for Sunday Mass.
Inhale the sweetgrass mingling with the incense. Listen to the Cree words intoned by the elders and the passionate homilies of Father Jim Holland. Toss your donation onto the blanket. And immerse yourself in the strength that comes from the melding of spiritualities.
Or flip open a university or college calendar and search under religious studies. Find one that tickles your fancy. And when you open that college or university door and spend those three hours a week in class, watch what happens when you discover something new about Jesus, the patriarchs and matriarchs, the building blocks that cemented Christianity into today's world. And society's television is clicked off as the university library computer is clicked on.
Maybe your path leads you to step on the mat in front of the hospital door and make your way to the volunteer desk. So often older patients would welcome the healing words of kindness or someone to read their Bible to them.
In the nursery, babies ache to be held. Some are foster children. Some have families hundreds of miles away. Cradling that wee one in your arms gives them the security of physical touch. And for that child it opens the door once shut for Mary as she sought shelter to give birth to Jesus. Your loving warmth quiets the infant's fear and allows peace to flow through their vulnerable, tiny being. They are safe.
As Jesus says, "Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me."
We know the doors we have closed. We know the doors we will not see. So does God.
Time to open our hearts to Jesus' words in Revelation, "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking: if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come into you, and eat with you, and you with me."
- Lasha Morningstar
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