Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Look for the Doorknob


I am aware that I have three consistent teachers of spirituality.  Two of them are pretty obvious: other people and books.  In fact, books really are other people, but most of them I have not met.  Some of them are deceased---maybe long-ago dead.  Others are people who are living, but I have not met them.  I value these teachers very much.  I am always open to meeting new ones, so that my learning can continue.

The third teacher is also fairly familiar in the literature of spirituality, but this teacher often is not recognized or overlooked.  This teacher sometimes goes by the name of nature.  However, I like to widen it beyond nature.  Too many times folks limit nature to the outdoors---to trees, water, etc.  Those are very valuable, to be sure. 

Instead of just saying nature, I like to mention the third teacher as my natural and normal surroundings.  This obviously includes the outdoors---the winter snows, the lovely sunsets, the soothing ocean.  But my natural and normal surroundings also include things indoors.  That is where I go for the content of my title: “look for the doorknob.”  It probably is not self-evident what meaning is behind this title.  So let us proceed.

It hit me last night or early in the morning as I made my way in the pitch black of night from my bedroom to another room.  I could have turned on the light, but chose not to do that.  I knew the room to which I was going would have a closed door.  Even though I know the layout of my place, I proceeded slowly.  I don’t know if that is what it is like to be blind, but I certainly could not see.  That meant there was a looming door and I needed to watch out.  However, it is tough to watch out when you can’t see!

So I did what most folks probably do.  With extended hand and arm, I felt along until I contacted the door.  I reached for the doorknob, turned it, and entered the room without a second thought.  What I did I have done a hundred times, if not more.  It seems perfectly natural and normal---as I said, I did it without thinking. 

But then, I began to think about it.  I began to reflect and realized I had a nice little parable of spirituality.  I certainly would not claim looking for the doorknob is the key to spirituality, but it can be a viable method to discover and develop spiritually.  I find it reassuring that method is natural and normal.  Just look for the doorknob.

Of course, when I use that phrase---just look for the doorknob---I am speaking metaphorically.  The image of a door is a familiar one in spiritual literature.  Clearly, a door is an opening---it is a way from one room to another, from one place to another.  It is a different kind of opening than a window.  Normally, we don’t walk through windows; we do walk through doors.

Even though the door is an opening, it might not always be opened!  Often doors are closed.  So it is in my spiritual experience.  Often I am closed off from where I can or want to go.  There is a door, but it is closed.  Does that mean there is no hope?  Of course not!  Does that mean there is nothing I can do?  Of course not!

It is obvious that when the door to spiritual growth and development is closed, we should simply open it.  But what if it is “nighttime” in our spiritual life?  The sun may be shining brightly outside, but spiritually it might well be pitch black.  In that case I can’t even see the door---I cannot spot the opening to spiritual growth and development.  I am in the same situation as I was last night as I felt my way along the hallway to the other room.  I had to feel my way to the door.  So it likely is with my spiritual pilgrimage.  Sometimes I have to feel my way.

If I do that, I will come to the door.  Spiritually the door may be closed, as that door was last night.  So like last night, I will have to look for the doorknob.  It might seem odd that I use the verb, “look,” when it is pitch black and you can’t see a thing.  But there are others ways to look than with one’s eyes.  Feeling your way---seeking the doorknob with our hand---is a form of “looking.”

The spiritual doorknobs we find that will open doors can be varied.  A tried and true one for me is simply to take some time to meditate---to reflect or maybe even pray.  Busyness is a door that I close myself off from the spiritual reality.  I speed along through my life, but I am unconnected and not spiritual.  I have slammed the door shut on my own growth and development. 

When I come to my senses, I realize spiritually I am in the dark again and I want to find that door.  And I realize I may have to look for the doorknob.  It can be fairly simple.  It does not require a miracle.  It simply asks for a little intentionality and a bit of courage to walk through the night, look for the doorknob and go on into the other place.

Spiritually speaking, that other place will be a place of spiritual growth and development.  It will be a place of spiritual nourishment and nurture.  It can be a place of community and communion.  All you have to do is go through the doorway.  But sometimes you may have to look for the doorknob to open the door.

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