Thursday, July 22, 2010


Sometimes, you have to walk through the door.

We spend so much of our lives praying for open doors, neglecting open windows, and longing for whatever small chance we have to breathe that fresh air. But without some level of understanding and appreciation for the doors and the air in our lives, we run the risk of missing it altogether in search of something lesser.

This struck me last night while I was trying to get my dog to come back inside about 9:30 so that I could go to bed. She’s been wanting out each night at dusk and just after sunset to sniff around the tree and harass whatever it is that’s drawn her attention out there. But she’s an old girl, 12 years old, and with bad arthritis, I don’t like to leave her outside all night.

Despite her protests.

As I stood at the door calling her name (and she pretended not to hear me, even though she will bark in the house at a schnauzer six houses away on a leash, her ears perking to the slight jingle of its collar), my only thought was, “C’mon dog. I’m tired. I want to go to bed, and I can’t stand here all night with the door open. I’m letting the bugs in.” With that, I brushed feverishly to get an unidentified insect out of my hair and closed the storm door, all the while tapping the glass and snapping my fingers and calling her name.

She continued to ignore me.

I took a last disgusted look at the bugs gathering around the light, clinging to the small screen in the door, and stepped out, closing the door behind me. I walked a few feet out onto the deck, the recent rain soaking my socks, and continued calling her name. Oddly, here, the bugs in my hair and the noises of the night around me were not as they had been just moments before – not disgusting or a nuisance or a demanding presence. Instead, I understood my change of place.

There was no risk of the bugs or the night invading my world, tucked safe into my house. No, here I stood in their world, the beautiful outdoors in all its twilight splendor. Even the bugs made it beautiful, and where bed had loudly been calling for some time, I now had no hurry to get back inside. It struck me how quickly my response had changed; it was not that the world had changed, either inside or out.

It was simply that I had ventured to step through the door.

So I have been thinking about that as the antidote to fear, this idea of stepping through an open door even when what lies on the other side seems strange or disgusting or dangerous. Not because foolishly charging into a potentially disruptive situation changes anything but simply because the view is different on the other side of the door.

We know what’s in here with us, in the rooms where we’ve locked ourselves away. We know what to expect, what is routine, what will come next, and how to protect our sensibilities. Yet there is always something about the other side of the door that calls us; are we willing to step out?

From inside the door, the night was still beautiful. But the sickly yellow deck light reflected off the window and turned the outdoors into a shadow world – vague forms of nature I knew existed but could barely make out. Looking up, I saw only the rotting wood paneling of a house longstanding in this place. And the preservation of my box dominated my thoughts.

Don’t let the bugs in.

Stepping out allowed me to see the night in its beauty, respond to its call, and relish the moment. It allowed me to look up and see not that etched wood but an expanding sky with moon and stars poking through the leaves of that big tree.

My dog looked at me, wondering what could have drawn me out of the house so late at night. She continued nosing around even as I stood at the edge of the deck, calling her name. Whatever she wanted under that tree was not going away. And I never figured out what it was.

But when she finally hobbled her old, achy body up the stairs to the deck and looked at me, then at the door, then back at me, I wasn’t sure any more that I was ready to go in. Stepping out changed my perspective, and it was not a moment I wanted to give up.

How often do I find myself looking at a door God has opened, peeking my head out to call into the wild or take a quick breath of air, but panicking about something so small as a bug? How would my life change is I embraced those doors and walked through them, then allowed my paradigm to shift to respond to my new surroundings? That is the key, I think, to holy movement and Godly growth. It is being able to appreciate the place and to respond as it calls us to, not as we would if we’d stayed behind. Had I responded outside as I did in the house, I would have spent the evening in hurried, demanding yelling for the dog to come inside as I swatted thousands of bugs away from my head.

It would have been decidedly less beautiful, less vocal in my heart.

And what a tragedy.

So when God opens a door, don’t stand inside and tap your toe. Step out. Then, change the way you’re thinking about things so that you’re not tempted to bring the inside out; respond as your heart calls you and soak in the moment. It might just change everything, even the way you see.

It does for me, this I know. My tried and true rule is only confirmed by this experience, that rule of course being “If you want to be a bug, be a bug OUTside.” When I walk out through that door and change the way I’m seeing and experiencing this very same world, I realize that a bug outside hardly bugs me.

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