Soon after Mama died my daddy moved away. Not far. But distant enough to make our daily hugs impossible. The first time I saw his house I was so impressed. I had always thought it was my mama who had the taste in the family. As it turns out, my daddy was terribly good at putting things together in a handsome, organized way.
What struck me was the curb appeal, how he had lined his front walkway with blooming trees and white hydrangeas to create something welcoming and distinctive. His attention to detail was impressive, immaculate even.
In context of all this, you can imagine my surprise at reaching for the doorbell to discover it wasn’t there. Not simply “no doorbell” but a gaping hole revealing tangled wires where one should or used to be.
“Daddy,” I inquired, “What happened to your doorbell?”
“I removed it,” he confessed, “The woman across the street kept ringing it and would not leave me in peace.”
Leave me in peace. There are so many times in recent days I have craved the essence of that phrase. Not the leaving part, but the illusive quality of a peace that permeates the tiny holes that life bores into our skin.
At the time I thought my daddy quite eccentric [a nice way of saying just a little crazy] but there are some things that happen to us that bring on a certain foolishness that surprises even us. I understand that now. And I respect that he was protecting the little bit of sanity he had remaining in the best way he knew how.
My recent-widower daddy was awkwardly and clumsily guarding his heart and that was an extraordinary thing.
It’s incomprehensible, really, how we let things in. How we invite the angst of an angry world to trample through our garden and take tea on our back porch—
“Why am I so agitated?” I ask my invisible guest.
Confession—sometimes I check my cell phone even before I brush my teeth. Just a “little check,” I tell myself, and the erosion of my peace begins. How is it that all those endorsements for the perfect teeth, the whitest smile, can be wedged between the headlines of a world in crisis and posts of agitation and disbelief?
Ahead of self-care, contemplation, even conversation with the living God, I have let in the dissident chatter of an angry world.
Before I even make the coffee, there is no measure for what I have welcomed in.
Welcome is such a beautiful word. It literally means, “one whose coming suits another’s will or wish.” Its origin declares the anticipation of the arrival of someone cherished, an intimate exchange of loving conversation is ahead.
I will let you in on a little secret—when I know you’re coming over I prepare hours in advance and then minutes before your arrival I pace around the house. I stand at the door and push my face to the glass…watching, anticipating.
My heart races as my hands prepare, ensuring everything is just right for my honored guest.
It’s so much more than opening the door to my sanctuary.
I am inviting you into my heart. Eager hugs, lots of questions, stories, secrets, there is no holding back.
What we speak about in the presence of one another is sacred…not always easy…but pure in its intention to bring about understanding and a way forward or through.
This is what true connection is. No matter how hard I try to love you remotely, there is no replacement for my long and robust embrace. What is shared face-to-face is the antithesis of online conversations, often scripted to make us covetous, frustrated, isolated, and confused.
Think of it this way—we are being un-hugged most of the day. And it doesn’t feel good.
Here is what I know with certainty—
Without physical contact, suspicion always sets in.
The most extraordinary part of all of it? We are doing it to ourselves…
No doorbell required.
Our own complicity to let in rage, disdain, even violence alters not only our thinking in the moment but progressively erodes what we love best about ourselves, what our Creator defines as our soul. And I think He isn’t happy about it. Not one bit.
A silly doorbell. That’s all it was. Yet I am compelled to ask you—what is your “way in” that should be ripped out?
As I write this question, I am thinking that my toothbrush is plugged in right next to my cell. We make it just so complicated, don’t we, when a few simple adjustments will do just fine.
The core of who we are was not designed to absorb all of what we take in.
“Guard your heart” —is not simply a beautiful phrase. It is a command. Consider it a prescription from your heavenly Doctor who knows your body better than you. I do. I have to now. “For from it flows the springs of life” —That’s the next part of the equation that we so often fail to hear.
There is an exquisite door [both figurative and physical] that protects my joy, laughter, rest. This door must be guarded from the deceptions of those who care nothing about who I am. And when I am ready, I swing it open wide to those who come needing love.