By the time you read this you will have opened and closed any number of doors today. To open and close a door is an easy, natural, unthinking act – unless we’ve forgotten our key or our arms are too full to manage it.
Doors are an integral part of life. They provide access, offer privacy and protection from violent weather or thieves. Doors are also instruments of power. We can shut people out or let them in.
Advent is a season for opening some doors and closing others. It is a time to open the door to a deeper, stronger relationship with the Holy One, to open our hearts to others in friendship and reconciliation – to open our minds to new attitudes and practices that birth a future full of hope.
There’s a well-known painting by Warner Sallman, which shows Jesus, standing at the door and knocking. If we take a good look at the door in the picture, we see no knob on the outside. That door – and by extension – the door of the human heart can only be opened from within.
The work of Advent is to open the door of our lives to anew. When the knock comes, we react in different ways. We may be cautious, curious to see who is there, irritated to be interrupted, ashamed that our house is not in order. We may be curt at the door, guarded, fearful, elated. Or we may ignore the knock completely. “Go away, God! I don’t want to see you today!”
You may think that this idea of opening some doors and closing others is a mild-mannered, ineffectual approach to Advent. But let’s think about two doors to close which entail personal discipline and hard work.
Close the door to noise, even briefly every day and welcome quiet to let the hidden gifts of the season seep into our consciousness. Be with the silence. Well, OK, you might say, but what will I say to God? Say “Come, Lord Jesus,” or maybe say nothing at all. Let God speak to your heart.
Close the door to violence. Isaiah in today’s first reading offers us the appealing image of beating our swords into ploughshares, i.e. giving up violence and creating peace. Some video games, movies, brawls at sporting events, wars across the world hold up violence for us to feast on vicariously. Say no to violence in word, deed and what we absorb.
Be like Mary who opened the door of her very self to the messenger of God. Be like Joseph who opened himself up to God’s call in dreams. Be like Jesus, who is the key to all life – our very own future.
Without drawing anyone’s notice, we can let the physical doors we open and close throughout the day remind us that our daily comings and goings are opportunities to meet and welcome God in others.
The key is in the lock. The divine visitor is at our Advent door. We need only open it wide with our welcome.
~Sister Joan Sobala