To support themselves, the first Christian monks spent their days weaving palm branches into baskets and ropes they could sell. And as they worked, they prayed. The steady rhythm of the work helped the monks memorize the psalms and the Gospels, which was a necessity in the fourth-century desert, as books were expensive and rare. But the monks regarded this work and prayer as their way to God, hoping that over time the "straw" of mundane tasks could become the "gold" of ceaseless prayer. (From A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer's Life Acedia and Me by Kathleen Norris)
I sit here at one of my favorite spots this New Year's Eve--the page. I look down to see what I'm hearing on Pandora. The title of the song is Time. How fitting, as I reflect on the past year. I think, too, of a beloved metaphor. Doors. One of my favorite couples, trusted friends, gave me a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas. The image includes multiple doors. How did they know I'd been wanting to work a puzzle over the holidays? I'd been looking in stores, but couldn't find a picture I'd want to piece together. But there in the package was the image I'd been searching out, door after door, some bright orange or turquoise, others weathered, paint peeling, some with knockers and intricate iron work. A few open.
As I think about the "doors" of 2017, I realize some doors were circumstancial, doors I had to walk through and figure out what lay on the other side. We all have them over a year. These portals must be opened, and often, at the end of the year, we're relieved to firmly close them. Perhaps locking them, cementing them over so that we never have to walk through again. Other doors were those we walked in and out of daily--our work and relationships, making our beds (or not), cooking meals, washing dishes, mowing lawns, walks or runs in our neighborhoods, dusting shelves, showering and haircuts. I often fail to appreciate these dependable, sturdy doors that offer a steady rhythm for the days and seasons of the year. Then there were those doors we chose to open, that we made up our minds to open. For me, these doors can sometimes feel too difficult to open--grown over with moss and lack of care. Why bother now? Besides they could be locked. Yet when I remember the occasions I've been brave enough to give those doors a push, many times they do creak open. And what waits on the other side is surprisingly wonderful. A rough draft gets written. A new language becomes more familiar. Faith blossoms in a desert place.
As you walk over the threshold into 2018, may you find comfort in those "quotidian" doors, the ones that you move in and out of day to day--the ones that bring stability and routine to your lives. May you appreciate their faithful hinges that allow you safe entries and exits. And may you face those circumstancial doors that you have no choice but to move through with hope, courage and strength. And those doors that wait for you...don't wait too long to push them open. If you have, though, don't despair. They still wait. Opportunity waits there for you. Let 2018 be that year. And may the God who so loves you, cares for you, believes in you and gives you those very desires to open the door, provide all you need to twist the knob . May you open your hearts and palms to His grace, His Spirit and light in 2018. May your steady rhythms and fearless courage throughout this new year be as spun gold.