I enjoy playing with six-word stories and poems. I wrote ‘Please just leave the door ajar,’ in January 2019 with the new year in mind. Flicking through my notebooks more recently it caught my eye as a plea very apt for this moment.
I rather like an open door, as much as I like a lighted window. It’s almost as good as that smile and shuffle when someone enters a room and everyone makes space for them and they are offered a cup of tea and a piece of cake. I love a Good Welcome. But I also like to leave my own door open on a fine day so that I can feel part of the wilder world: the feel of the breeze, smell on the air and the song of the birds. I am not afraid of the dark, but I am sometimes afraid of my own vivid, anxious imagination and what it can do to me. I like to leave my bedroom door ajar, so I don’t feel so alone with my thoughts.
We are living behind closed doors at the moment, but I think many of us have found our hearts and minds and eyes opening up.
We are open to using new technology, because we need to see people. With the traffic noise hushed, we are open to the sound of birdsong. As we take exercise in our immediate locality, we are open to chatting at a safe distance to neighbours – we ask them how they are and really mean it. We are waving at delivery drivers, and thanking bin-collectors. When we talk to loved ones on phones and screens we actually tell them that we love them. We are being open with each other. Sharing struggles and joys, offering comfort as well as practical help. We are asking for help and prioritising each other’s mental and physical health.
All of a sudden we are allowed to open our loving hearts to one another. I don’t know why we needed permission to love each other, but now we have got it. And I hope we keep it. We loving humans are so capable of loving and it is as if we have been waiting and itching to take care of each other for years. We smile and wave and dance on and off the pavements to keep each other safe and offer to get shopping and prescriptions for each other. It’s hard to tell how long this period will go on for, but I wonder if we will leave our hearts and minds on the latch? Thomas Merton wrote:
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realisation that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs… It was like waking from a dream of separateness… to take your place as a member of the human race. I had the immense joy of being a member of the race in which God…became incarnate. If only everybody could realise this. But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking round shining like the sun.”
We are learning not only that we can love each other, but that we need each other. Our true nature is in connection to each other and to our environment. We were meant to be wild. Perhaps we are discovering the best bits of our local areas. Where the best bluebells are or whose peonies or roses are out. Are the swifts returning? We are remembering to be grateful for our local park, or the fields behind the church or this weather and our health, or our jobs if we still have them.
Or perhaps we cannot find much to be grateful for. We are filled with grief and frustration, pain and disappointment, worry, outrage, anxiety and depression. We must let those things in through our doors and feel them. But if we keep our doors open we can share them and let them out again when the time comes.
I’m trying to tell you that you are ‘walking around shining like the sun’.
As the tamed horse
still hears the call of her wild brothers
and as the farmed goose flaps hopeful wings
as his sisters fly overhead,
so too, perhaps,
the wild ones amongst us
are our only hope in calling us back
to our true nature.
who have not been turned to stone
by the far-reaching grasp of the empire
and its programme of consumer sedation,
the killing of imagination.
Where, my friends,
have the wild ones gone?
Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer
Published by Collins