advent, expectations, grief, jan richardson, longing, rest, seasons


blessingofdoorOften I’ve heard the quote, “When one door closes, another one opens.” I appreciate the sentiment but it isn’t particularly helpful. Usually this is tossed around when someone is going through a difficult time – job loss, relationship ended, illness and so on. During these times, platitudes like this are not helpful.

Yes, another door will open; however, right now, the door I wanted to go through is closed – I’m not ready to go through other doors just yet. Give me a chance to sit with the closed door for a while. Thank you very much.

This morning I read a blessing from Jan Richardson’s book Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons (2015). I love her writing. It often brings me to tears, but I think that means her words are reaching a sacred place – a place of tenderness and intimacy. I’d like to share the one I read this morning…

Blessing the Door (page 26)
First let us a say
a blessing
upon all who have
entered here before

You can see the sign
of their passage
by the worn place
where their hand rested
on the doorframe
as they walked through,
the smooth sill
of the threshold
where they crossed.

Press your ear
to the door
for a moment before
you enter,

and you will hear
their voices murmuring
words you cannot
quite make out
but know
are full of welcome.

On the other side,
these ones who wait –
for you,
if you do not
know by now –
understand what
a blessing can do:

how it appears like
nothing you expected:

how it arrives as
outrageous invitation,

how it takes the form
of angel
or dream;

how it comes
in words like
How can this be?
lifted up the lowly;

how it sounds like
in the wilderness
prepare the way.

Those who wait
for you know
how the mark of
a true blessing
is that it will take you
where you did not
think to go.

Once through this door,
there will be more;
more doors,
more blessings,
more who watch and
wait for you.

But here
at this door of
the blessing cannot
be said without you.

So lay your palm
against the frame
that those before you

Place your feet
where others paused
in this entryway.

Say the thing that
you most need,
and the door will
open wide.

And by this word
the door is blessed,
and by this word
the blessing is begun
from which,
door by door,
all the rest
will come.

Each time I read it something new resonates with me. And, each time, tears build up because these are sacred words.

It feels like a door has closed in my life. But, what if that door was never open? What if I have been standing at a closed door this whole time? Expecting something to be there that was never there? I thought I knew what was behind it. I planned for what I expected to be there. But now I know, what I thought would be there just isn’t. And, I won’t know what’s really there until I open it.

Whatever is there, the blessing for that door “cannot be said without” me – it is my door to open, mine alone. And yet, I’m not alone. There are many others who have stood in front of this very door. Like me, they were sad and unsure and weary. Their tired feet stood where mine stand. The only difference between us is they have passed through the door, while I am still waiting to turn the knob.

They are there on the other side. They know this isn’t what I expected – it wasn’t what they expected either. The blessing of this door is that “it will take me where I did not think to go.” They are eagerly waiting for me to pass through, but also understand and honor my hesitance, my need to sit and lean against the frame for a while – to rest, to be.

I’m comforted to know I’m not alone because sometimes I feel very alone. The immediate concern has worn off – less texts and phone calls to check in. People have moved on, I get that. But I’m still lonely. I worry that there are only so many times a person can sit with me while I cry or ponder why this is happening to me. And so I don’t reach out. It’s a two way street.

When I’m ready to walk through the door, there will be others there waiting. Others who understand. Others who know that some days are harder than others, for reasons unknown to any of us. Others who are willing to listen and comfort without offering any sort of solution or explanation.

We all have doors we’re waiting to pass through. Some we recognize, some we don’t. In the end, we never know what’s behind the door until we open it. I’m not ready yet, but when I am, I know the blessing will be ready for me, for just the time when I turn the knob.


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