Christmas – An Open Door or even a Half-Door

Sophie and Zara had a very serious chat this time last year. These are my grandnieces. They aren’t my grandchildren as one very brazen old lady (she was 70!) suggested recently! Sophie and Zara had a problem. Their brother Kyle was sad. His grandfather had died. Sophie explained to Zara that John had gone to heaven. But Zara wanted to know- where is heaven? Sophie was 5. She explained where heaven was. And then Zara asked – can we go there?
The story of the children is our story too. Where is heaven? Where is God? What is Christmas? The feast of Light. Who is the light? Jesus Christ. We had a swinging door last year as our symbol (suggested by Francis). Who opens the DOOR to God; to wonder; to beauty; to mystery? How can we open that DOOR into the heart of God? Into the poetry of faith?
At John’s funeral (& all funerals), at the foot of the Comeraghs – the door also swung open. The mountains spoke. Nature is a door to God. If we let it swing open. If we stop, stare and are awed. The sense of loss at John’s funeral – that too is a door into humanity and goodness. The wandering into many doors of homes (families), and stories. The openness, goodness and wonder of a home and family is that Open door. I am reminded of the half-door at home in years gone by; the Table and the Range. The Kettle of hospitality was always boiling. Food was for sharing. Chat was for nourishment. That was the altar. Here was the Eucharist of life.
The Open door – of laughter and argument; the Open door of insight and inspiration; the Open door of friendship and love. The Open door to God, happens in such hospitality. The Open Door – is a touch of God. It gives us a glimpse of something beyond. We shudder with surprise, delight and humility.
And now I return to the little ones: Sophie and Zara. ‘Can we go there?’ All of us can go there -To heaven and heaven is very close. It is when we let the fresh air of God into our minds, hearts and imaginations and don’t stop learning, listening and loitering. Dark minds, dull hearts, dreary imaginations make no room for open doors. An Open door – happens when we let a baby, (the helplessness and mystery of a baby), tell us, how God relies on us and needs us. (Christmas).
I think of Medellin; a City described as ‘soaring into the heavens.’ That City links our minds, with the recent crash of the Chapencoense team. A City which connects with a Meeting of Latin American Bishops in ’68 where the ‘option for the poor’ was declared and where ‘liberation theology’ woke up. If those links are suggestive and if we can ‘soar into the heavens’ we may catch something of the ‘City of God’ of which St Augustine speaks. Where is that City of God, for us just now?
But where does the codology of Brexit fit into this? Or Trump (named as person of the year)? Or the limiting counterfeit view of God sometimes peddled by Church people? These are crass, crude and reduced versions of humanity where the soaring sense of Godliness is lost and where the half-door is shut and where little fearful minds take over. There is no poetry in Brexit or in Trump or in some Church propagandists. There is nothing that ‘soars into the sky.’ There is only the flatness of closed minds, closed doors and closed imaginations. And I wonder how infected we all are, by our neglect of a God, who throws open doors, and who explodes in our hearts, with enthusiasm, exuberance and excitement. It is the Feast of Good News. It is the Feast of Wonder. It is the Feast of God’s Foolishness. It is the Feast of Beauty. It is the Feast of Poetry. It is the Feast of God inside us. It is the Feast of Love.   It is the Feast of the Open Door or the Half Door. It is expansive, extraordinary & wonderful.
Seamus Ahearne. OSA.

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  1. joe kavanagh says:

    Seamus, delightful and so apt; you have a gift for the exuberance of life – thank you for expressing so powerfully what so many of us feel, and for finding words for the extravagance of God … a blessed relief from the sad and ‘verkrampt’ sense that too easily prevails. Happy feast !

  2. Mary Vallely says:

    ‘… a God, who throws open doors, and who explodes in our hearts, with enthusiasm, exuberance and excitement’.
    I love this! Thanks, Seamus, for again revitalising us. There is an old saying about God never shutting one door but he opens another and that too often we spend so much time focusing on the shut door we fail to see the door that is open. Never truer than at present with recent happenings both here and across the Atlantic. I think we need more reminders of hope such as this post of Seamus’s. We are supposed to be an Easter people, a people of hope, who reflect the joy of the Gospel. Let’s bear that in mind then. ?

  3. Christine Lynch says:

    I was under the impression that the “Eucharist of life” IS the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ truly and actually present under the species of bread and wine not some social event like boiling the kettle and having a chat. Anyone can do that (Christian or otherwise). Has the Catholic faith that people fought and died for in Ireland really been reduced to that level of banality? What, oh what, have you shepherds done to the Faith of our Fathers and the flock entrusted to you? The souls of the faithful are the responsibility of the clergy. You are accountable to God for them and their eternal (not worldly) salvation.

  4. Susan Mc Hugh says:

    The half door, the table, the range, the kettle. The chat, indeed, was the nourishment. We 3 shared something of all that, Seamus, in the very recent past.
    That IS the Altar. Here IS the food of life.
    Our stiff, formalulaic Sunday eucharist was redeemed, here in Madeira, when the wee local Woman beside me asked if she could give me a hug, when I had offered her lavander oil to ease her coughing.

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