When my son was little, doors were everything.
Before there were words – before there were songs, before “I love you”, and “ee-i-ee-i-oh”: there were doors. His love was not discriminating; he loved the doors at Target, the doors to the closets at church and the doors he constructed himself with legos, cards, books or even his own hands. Anything similar enough to trigger his imagination would do.
If you have known us for a long time you have surely encountered some of Danny’s doors. If he trusted you enough, you might have even played the game a few times! It was repetitive – more like a ritual or a ceremony – and it was a lot of fun, if only because it was endlessly delightful to my boy. The game was complex and methodical in his mind but we understood the only rule that mattered: only Danny opens the door.
Things became more complicated as he assembled his language skills, but the basics were always the same. Our job was to knock; he would decide to let us in.
The game evolved into a coping mechanism for Danny as he grew older. When the world threw unpredictable things at him, he would retreat to the stability of his doors to keep his cool. Unfortunately, he was far more reluctant to open the door for the world than he had been in his earlier games. That meant that, though he often seemed like he was present, he was really just peeking through the cracks from the other side of his mind. He didn’t trust the world, so he was – for all intents and purposes – closed.
I don’t need to tell you that is a difficult way to live. We wanted his life to be an exchange of hope and possibility, not a cage of his coping. So we knocked, and we hoped.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…” Revelation 3:20
Danny’s doors were uniquely his, but the process of working with him to find the key was a spiritual practice for me. I spent several seasons out on his doorstep, knowing he was looking for me in a place where he had not yet allowed me to go. I was certain that he was as desperate to know that I was there as I was for an invitation in. But no matter how much I loved him – no matter how much I ached to comfort him, to know him, to help him: only Danny opens the door.
And goodness, doesn’t that sound familiar? Isn’t that how we respond to Jesus sometimes? We feel isolated, abandoned or ignored but we haven’t done the thing he cant do for us. We need to open the door.
If you are feeling closed this season; if you are feeling alone and unknowable, trapped behind something that once served to keep you safe…consider this your invitation to press your ear to that door and listen. Love is knocking, right on the other side.
This post was originally published as a part of a lent devotional my church, Sterling United Methodist, is writing. Check out this and other posts on the church blog!