I became fascinated with the doors in Jerusalem during my recent pilgrimage. As you wander around the city, whether on a tour like ours or on your own, if you keep your eyes open, you’ll start to notice the unique aspects of the doors. The colors, the textures, the sizes, the placement. Fancying myself an artsy photographer, I started snapping up pictures as we went along.
But what do I do with a bunch of pictures of doors now that I’m home? As I was thinking about them, a thought popped into my head. I’m choosing to follow it because I’ve learned that usually those thoughts are not accidental. They’re my intuition kicking in – telling me to pay closer attention.
The doors throughout Jerusalem have a story. We can imagine what it would be based on where they are in the city. But behind the doors is an entirely different story that passerby’s don’t have access to.
I thought about the doors in my life and they do just that. They close off access to those I want to keep from being too close to me. In my mind, they keep me safe. Here’s how it would go down. In a situation where I want to keep a person from not knowing certain aspects about me, the ugly parts, the door slowly closes. Same is true when I lose trust or faith in someone. Mind you, I’d say I don’t want to close the door, but it feels safer, more in control. I do this when someone disagrees with me. Slam the door. I want to protect myself, my opinion, my belief, so I close myself off to whoever and whatever pushes up against that. No solicitation friend – take your thoughts elsewhere, mine are staying safely locked inside.
After being on my pilgrimage though, I can’t leave what seemed fine alone anymore. I feel as though Israel was where I felt open. My heart, my soul, were open, receptive. I didn’t feel the need to defend. I felt settled, secure. Maybe you’ve felt like that before, the ‘knowing’ that there’s no need to close doors, to throw up walls. That you’re safe. I felt more connected to others, to myself, to God.
And then I came home.
At first, the crushing jet lag kept me in the open space, honestly, I wouldn’t have had the energy to close anything but my eyes. But it happened. As the week went on, I felt the familiar desire to protect the space around me.
What does it do for us though to shut doors? Nothing. It may seem like the answer, a way in which we can keep ourselves safe, but all it really does it keep us farther away from other people. Not only that, it keeps people we actually care about from truly seeing us, from being witness to our life and to the soft part on the inside. It creates a false sense because the door we close may be ornately decorated while the soft part inside has questions, fears, and, on the flip side, may have creative, bold thoughts and ideas that want to come out but stay hidden behind the door. Keeping others from truly seeing who we are, keeping our beliefs or thoughts hidden may seem like it’s the safe path, but it will never lead to fulfillment or to truly living our authentic life.
That leaves us with a choice. Now, granted, there are some people who we need to close the door on because they are unsafe. But for the vast majority, what would it look like to remain open? To welcome them to know our true self, the authentic, bold one who lives behind the door. We have that choice.
So, you can keep closing doors – or take the braver path and keep them open. Take pictures of doors, but don’t construct them in your life. It may feel scary and that’s normal, it’s ok. You’re not alone – we’re all practicing keeping our doors open. I hope when we meet we’ll be telling each other to come on in.