A few years ago I decided to search for a new front door that would be a better fit with the 1937 home in which I lived. The door that I would be replacing was more modern and did not really enhance the front entrance of this older home. In my quest I walked through many antique shops and was surprised to find that there were many doors available that would be just perfect for my home. I purchased one of these “old doors” brought it home and began a long process of removing the old stain, sanding and refinishing the door. The process took about 4 weeks and the door began to offer me somewhat of a daily meditation as I worked on it each evening.
The door had 6 small panes of glass toward the top. I thought about all the people over the years that gazed out these windows. People anticipating guests, looking for a letter from the mail carrier, checking on an unknown noise from outside, watching over the children and, given the age of the door, probably looking for the milk “man” and a bread delivery. My thoughts became a prayer as I reflected on those who had gazed through this glass with their hopes, joys and even fears. I prayed for all of us who would use this glass in the future to welcome others, look for surprises and make sure that all was safe. I now see these windows as somewhat sacred because they are blessed by the lives of those who have and who will peer through to better experience life’s gifts.
As I removed the hinges of the door I reflected on the history of this door opening and closing to allow family, friends and visitors to come and go as they shared in the lives of those within. The open door provided sunlight and fresh breezes. The closed door provided comfort, safety and warmth for the family within. I prayed that as the doors in my home, my work and the many buildings I visit swing open and closed that they bring loved ones together, encourage gatherings of people of peace and create a community of hospitality where all are welcome.
The door was solid oak, strong and heavy and the grain of the wood was beautiful. As I removed the original varnish and stain I found many nicks and scratches in the wood. Some of these could be sanded away and others had become part of the wood. I reflected on the life of this beautiful piece of wood. How we, like this door, are changed by the experiences of life that are around us. How all experiences, joyful ones and painful ones alike become part of us and can create in us a different, often more beautiful image. I was glad I could not eliminate the life markings on the door. These marks told me that much life had happened around this door. They offered me a sort of promise that many more lives would touch this door and this home.
My last task was to clean and polish the doorknob. The many hands that had grasped its round form had worn the brass finish away. This knob had probably been turned several thousand times to let people in or to send them away. I prayed that all future turnings, the comings and goings through this door, would be ones that honored the sacredness of creation and that furthered a world of peace, kindness and love.
My prayer is that the doors of our workplaces, our homes and the doors of our hearts constantly provide entryways for the building of a world where all are invited to pass through, and where even God would truly be at home.
A Summertime Prayer
It’s summer time again, a time of growth, new life, activity and recreation. Sometimes, Lord, those good things are overshadowed by intense heat, severe storms, flooding, worries about crops, and all the many things we deal with day to day such as war, financial concerns, possibly health concerns, family/friend issues etc.
You sit with me when I am in pain, you encircle me when I am anxious, you rejoice with me when I am happy. I know this Lord, help me to feel it as well as know it.
Lord, may I always remember that with you, I can focus on the present and move into the future confidently with the assurance that you will hold me in the bad times and share my joy in the good times.