If you think about it, doors are everywhere, we breeze through them hundreds of times a day, rarely noticing them. Doors offer us protection, solitude, safety. They can let someone in, or keep them out! They show us the direction in which we are headed. Stop and think about all the doors you have passed through since you got up this morning – they are a natural and integral part of our lives.
Doors are a wonderful metaphor for our own spiritual journey. Ask yourself these questions. How often do I hear spirit knocking gently, or banging loudly, ringing the doorbell of my heart? Do I greet the activity of spirit in the way I greet a visitor who physically knocks on my front door? Am I even aware I have a visitor? Have I been listening, awaiting the clarity of the next step on my spiritual journey? Whether we realize it or not, we hold the power to choose how a door is used. We get to decide at the threshold of every doorway if we are welcoming in, asking for privacy, refusing entry or maybe being even downright inhospitable.
The word “advent” comes from the Latin adventus – to come. There is an anticipation of something, a waiting. It is a time of preparation, a time to strengthen our relationships with each other and deepen our commitment to our spiritual journey. Advent is a season of opening doors so that the divine can shine through us offering a welcome to others – as though a neon sign hangs on our hearts saying, “Please, come in!”
While the focus of Christmas is naturally about the birth of Jesus, Mary holds a special place in my heart because, for me, she is the quintessential door. Mary is a beautiful, intuitive, fearful, yet faithful door. In the Christmas story, when the angel Gabriel, a divine visitor, knocks on her heart, she is of course afraid and unsure, filled with questions and getting no immediate clear answers. Like most good humans, me included, she hesitates before opening her door.
Mary represents every moment I have stood at a door, feeling afraid of the future with its unknown outcomes, not wanting to open the door. She is every moment I have doubted myself, been unsure of myself, convinced I wasn’t worthy. She is every moment I have been restless and confused at the possibility of getting hurt by what others might do or say if I open the door. She is every moment I have struggled with my own fears and inadequacies when a divine visitor has tapped on the door of my life asking to come in, calling me to forgive more fully and love more deeply – calling me to be greater than I could have ever imagined.
Mary did not let the unknown stop her from extending a welcome to love. I imagine that the minute she said, “Yes, you may come in,” she was creating a space within herself for infinite possibilities to be born, opening herself wide to love, opening herself to allow the whole world to fall in. This is what Advent is about – a season of opening the doors of ourselves. Advent invites us to listen and be attentive, be ready for the knocking door, the doorbell ringing and embrace every visitor more fully, meeting God every time we open a door.