Ben is two. When the train pulls in and out of the local station, five minutes walk away, he hears it acutely. On his Gma and Gpa day this week, his response to the sound of the train was to get out his pusher, take my hand and make it very clear that the station was our destination.
As the train moved out, and the automatic announcement of the next station’s name was called, he was startled. He looked wonderingly up and around to see where the heavenly voice had come from. With his blonde curls and his big eyes, my heart was entranced.
At each station there was also a deeper voice warning us in a mechanical monotone to stand back because there were ‘”Doors closing”. By the third station a voice emerged from the pusher into the silent carriage: “DOORS CLOSING!” A smile ran around the carriage across the silent passengers, binding us together with each other for a moment of delight.
‘Doors closing’ has been a mantra in my mind ever since.
In my personal life, I have made it a watch phrase, catching myself closing doors to possibilities – of adventures, of deeper relationships, of exploring the grace of silence.
In the world of family love, we are planning a party for our Mum’s 90th birthday. It is taking a lot of conversation and negotiating with each other as we all want her day to be happy, but sometimes we get our wires crossed and confusion reigns for a while. Doors could close but we love each other and we all love Mum so they won’t.
For Mum, 90 brings new challenges as gradually all the rest of her immediate family have now closed the doors to this era of their lives. She feels this will be her last party – another closing door – but of course we think it is a door opening to the next decade of a full life.
For one lucky baby boy, it is definitely ‘doors opening’. He was born this week to an excellent choice of parents – my niece Clare and her husband Adam. For them it is an exhilarating opening, but also the doors closing on a time of freedom and plentiful sleep. (And yes, I cried when I saw the baby photos of the one who has now held my sister’s hand and taken her through the doors to Grandmother joy).
‘Doors opening’ is the antidote to ‘Doors closing!’
If only…if only…as a community and world we could remember the warning to be careful of DOORS CLOSING. Doors to hearts, doors to minds, doors to anyone who is not the same as us. A smile rippling can connect a whole carriage.
What if the announcement was ‘TIME FOR DOORS OPENING EVERYONE!’