FOOTSTEPS AND FINGERPRINTS
When was the last time you opened a door? I mean really concentrated on the process of opening a door? If you are like me, we most often take for granted the act of opening a door to go from inside to outdoors, or outside to inside. I am currently rereading the book of Joyce Rupp, Open the Door: A Journey to the true self. So, during the next few weeks I invite you to journey with me through both closed and open doors.
Doors are quite essential in our lives. They provide us security and are a barrier and protection against things or people or bad weather we don’t want to face. Doors can also be welcoming and can provide passageways to places that beckon us forward. They connect us to events that have influenced our lives.
Way back when I was in high school, I attended a Christian Summer Camp for two weeks. One of our activities was to visit different rural churches in the area. It was in one of these old small churches that I first encountered the scene of Jesus knocking at the door. Behind the altar was a larger-than-life stained glass window with Jesus standing in front of a closed door, knocking on the door. The pastor explained to us that the door represented our heart, that Jesus could not open the door because it had no doorknob, that we had to open the door of our heart to Him before He could enter.
As the years went by I learned that in both Hebrew and Christian scriptures the heart is the place of divine movement where spiritual transformation takes place. Rupp likes to refer to the heart as the authentic or true self, one’s deeper self, the sanctuary of the soul. St. Teresa de Avila calls it the interior castle, with many secret chambers and rooms with many connecting doors that lead to our inner self, to our authentic God-created self.
Rupp believes that when we open the door of our heart to God, we open ourselves to growing and changing into better persons whose lives radiate goodness, or as she puts it “Godness”. It is the choices and decisions we make that determine if we open the door to opportunities and change, if we actually step through the door, if we continue on and enter the unknown territory on the other side of the door. Or, we can actually choose to ignore the door, not to open it, and not to enter the unknown, choosing to remain in our own little comfort zone.
I realize now that each time I opened a new door in my life and stepped into the unknown future, I have been transformed in some way – in experiences that have enriched me, in relationships that have nourished me, and in challenges that have uplifted me spiritually and emotionally.
Rupp reflects that the purpose for opening the door inward to our heart is to help us know and claim who we are so we can more completely join with our Creator in expressing this love in every part of our external world. She says that whether we open the door freely or are shoved through it by unexpected and sometimes unwanted life circumstances, we should welcome the opportunity to take Jesus’ hand and learn and grow from every situation in which we find ourselves.
She’s right; this is exactly what has happened to me. I now keep a laminated picture of Jesus Knocking at the Door on our home altar to remind me to always keep the door to my heart open. Whenever I open a new door and pass through it to confront new possibilities, new challenges and new opportunities, I become ever more conscious of myself as a person with unlimited potential for goodness and for God-ness. With each threshold crossing, I look forward and leave behind my fears and doubts. In so doing, I gain greater freedom as a child of God and get to know my authentic self even more intimately. Believe me, opening the door of your heart is truly a transforming experience!