Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Coming & Going

The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in,
   from this time forth for evermore.  Psalm 121:8

“Can you also do something about this door?” 

“What do you want?” The contractor who has come to measure the windows in my house for replacements looks critically at our front screen door.  It is aluminum, a couple of decades old, and somewhat battered. Among other issues, the latch is broken so it no longer remains closed when challenged by a strong wind. Remnants of broken glass that still make themselves known on our front stoop are proof of an unfortunate encounter between a winter gale and the storm window of that door.

“Well, we like having it. But I know it is a custom fit, so I’m sure replacing it will be costly.”

“Why don’t you just fix it?”

Well, there’s a thought. The kind gentleman points out that the latch, closer, and chain (the one that keeps the door from swinging wildly with the wind) can all be easily replaced with parts purchased at the local hardware store. How about that.

I actually enjoy fixing things. So on a free day I look forward to my encounter with the door. Five hours and two trips to the hardware store later, the task is accomplished. Apparently my ancient door exists in a different universe from the replacement parts that are universal in size. In the process, I have also applied a bucket of soapy water to the screen door, wooden front door, and the stoop. The aluminum boasts stains beyond the reach of scrubbing. The wood remains old and pocked. The paint on the stoop is beginning to peel in places. Nevertheless, my attentions make a visible difference and the front of the house seems to breathe more easily.

Our house is old. Old and beloved.  With a constant list of repairs, it has been easy to neglect that screen door. Yet, it is the way we enter and exit our house on a daily basis. Multiple times a day. Running off to work and school. Bringing in groceries and backpacks and sports equipment. Welcoming friends and politely discouraging sellers of energy plans. Checking on the weather, or a late night noise in the street, or for the morning paper. Chatting with a neighbor with the door ajar.

Entrances and exits are important. And the doorway, the liminal space, the threshold, is a place both ubiquitous and unique. What would it be like to linger at the threshold? To breathe there, and recognize it as a holy zone? It occurs to me I might pay more attention to my coming and going. After all, God does.

photo credit: Anne E. Kitch