Saturday, April 15, 2017

40. DOOR

After a delightful evening in Paris, where we feasted on friendship and good food with Paco, Anne and Bea, we returned to our flat for three hours sleep and an early morning train ride to Normandy.

 Our speedy silver bullet took us I fast forward through the French countryside, new with pale green colors of spring, spotted with blocks of brilliant gold in the early blooming grapeseed crops.
We met our tour guide, Flo, at the train station and began our eight-hour tour with a short video in the van. I sat in the second seat between Libby and David and knew we were in for a memorable day when I noticed that both of them were immediately wiping tears at the sobering recounting of aging war veterans telling of their experiences in this place. Flo was full of passion for the Americans who gave their lives for the freedom of his people. That passion and vigor in a twenty-six-year old man was refreshing.
Flo shows us a paratrooper's vest called Mae West.

We heard our hushed whispers echo in churches, felt the sands of Utah and Omaha beaches on our feet, walked awestruck through Pointe du Hoc where the farmlands were so damaged by bombing that the farmer had to abandon it, leaving a holy scar to remind us of the wounds received there by all mankind. 
We felt the chill of large German bunkers built with slave labor by some of the French themselves, forced by the Germans to work against their will, and walked in grateful silence the rows on rows of white crosses, thousands of them, that stand at attention in the American military cemetery that overlooks the waters. 
We spent a charming evening strolling through the streets of Bayeaux, France, eating a small dinner on the porch of a restaurant in the shadow of the town cathedral, and then caught the train back to Paris.
As we stood at the train station waiting for the train back to Paris, Libby’s Fitbit sent her this message: 

“Congratulations! You’ve earned your first Trailshoe badge for walking 30,000 steps in one day!" 
I don’t remember a single thing about the train ride home.
It was nearly midnight when we arrived back at the flat we were renting. We were staying in a very old building, a couple centuries old, with wonderful old wooden floors and large wooden beams jutting through the ceilings and floor to ceiling glass doors opening onto a courtyard. There were perhaps a dozen or so flats that were accessed through a courtyard entrance. Walking down the narrow street one would not know that behind a pair of massive blue doors was this community, unless you had been there. 
The heavy wooden doors were locked when we returned, so David entered the security code. There was a strange buzz when he finished, but not the familiar click, indicating the lock was lifted. We pressed on the doors and they would not open. Kate took a turn trying the code, and then Libby and then me, just to satisfy each of us. You know how when something isn’t working each of us has this human instinct to give it a go ourselves, even though we have complete confidence in the other person trying? Libby messaged the manager from whom we had rented the flat. While we waited for a return message an energetic cluster of young adults came walking up the rue carrying a couple boxes of pizza. They greeted us and tried the code, with the same results of course. The young woman among the three men planted herself atop one of the motorcycles parked on the street while the boys shook the large wooden doors and tried the code something like 538 times. They also tried to contact the person from whom they were renting their flat for the week. They finally ate their pizza, and the girl had a smoke. I walked up and down the street whistling, enjoying how music echoes off tall stone structures. Libby heard back from the manager, who answered something like: “Oh yes, that sometimes happens. Let me see what I can do” followed by, “I’m working on it”, followed by, “I’m still working on it.” 
Trying to storm the Bastille, or something like that,
with our new neighbors in Paris
After an hour and a half he suggested we find a hotel. Apparently, historically, when someone was locked out they called other residents who were inside and asked them to come open the door. But last night no one was home, or they were not answering their phones. The large knocker on the right-hand door, ancient looking, sort of like the one on Scrooge’s front door, was ineffective as it had been painted stiff in the joints. The boys gave the door a good shake, hoping someone inside would notice and rescue us. Alas, to no avail. The youngsters went on their way, and we finally resigned ourselves to the fact that we would need to find another place to sleep, with no pajamas, no toothbrushes or other supplies. We just hoped that by morning the manager’s promise that he would get us in would be true.
Sure enough, when David walked over from our hotel at 8:00 this morning, the large blue doors were open. We retrieved our things and took off, stopping at the home of Victor Hugo and the Eiffel Tower before we boarded the Eurostar, where I am at this moment writing as we travel back to London.
I’ve been pondering that adventure last night, standing on a narrow street in Paris, just feet from our belongings and a nice soft pillow after a long day, thinking about the meaning and power of doors. My sister Sherry likes to lock her doors. I think it’s in response to a friend of hers having been murdered when she was showering and someone entered her house. I understand that. But I am torn about locking my door, especially when I am alone. I realize that not only am I locking out anyone who might harm me, I am also locking out those who could come to my aid if I needed help.
A number of years ago, when they built an addition on our little neighborhood church in Farmington, they added doors to the outside in our Primary and Relief Society rooms. The strange thing about those doors is they’re made only to exit. There is no handle on the outside. If you wanted to get into the Primary room in a hurry from the outside, your only option would be to knock and hope someone would let you in. Otherwise, go to one of the main doors.
Those doors on our church, and the huge blue doors at the courtyard to our flat in Paris, remind me of that painting of Jesus where he is standing outside the door, knocking. There is no handle for him to turn on his side of the door.
I am reminded, this Easter eve, that while he has the most amazing gift to offer us in our human lives, He will not force it upon us. We must open our own doors and let him in.
Jesus saith unto him;
I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh to the Father but by me.
John 14:6
One day all of us will get to the point when the doors we come to are the ones we have no control over - eternal doors. It is He who flings them open, allowing us access to that place we could not enter on our own.
At the end of this Holy season, culminating tomorrow in the commemoration of His Resurrection, I add my witness that He is the way. In the end, because of the gift he gave that first Easter, every one of us who has a body now will be resurrected just as He was. It’s what I call God’s "open door policy”. We need entrance, and Christ is the door.
What a Giver - and what a gift!


  1. Thank you for your lenten gift. It's been a joy and a blessing.

  2. Thank you for all your hours of writing. It is truly a blessing to all who read and are touched by the thoughts and truths you speak of. I love it so much. I am committed each year to read (it's not a hard commitment). It's pure joy and I am so grateful to know you personally and know of your heart and read your powerful and beautiful words. Thank you again and hope your Easter was memorable. I can't believe you are in England and France. Must talk soon. Much love and Happy Easter and thank you again for Lent writing!

  3. Such a Godsend these words are to me now as I am missing you. How grateful I am for the doors that Christ has opened for me in my life especially the door of opportunity to live with Him and those I love, like you, FOREVER!

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