This morning’s homily included a story about a business owner who made sure every single one of his employees got out of the World Trade Center alive. He ended up perishing as he was opening the door and ushering lots and lots of other people through to safety.
The priest mentioned the importance of opening the door for other people. This was his metaphor for Mercy. As we embark on this year of Mercy I think this is a great image to keep in mind.
Ironically enough, as I write this, I now find myself locked outside of not one but three doors and am waiting to find a way in since two hours of my day has already been eaten up by my effort to attend a meeting that is going on somewhere deep inside this locked building. I guess I should be happy that I have time to think about this metaphor as I’m experiencing the frustration of wanting to be let in while people inside are having a hunky dory time and not thinking about the possibility that someone else is locked out.
[Update:} I circled the building, peering into every window I could reach, an effort that took about twenty minutes. I had plenty of time (about 2 hours overall from arrival to getting inside) to experience the gamut of emotions. The one I allowed to linger longest was the one where I felt indignant about the whole thing. At last, someone else entered the building and I popped up from my (by then, comfortable spot on the ground with a great book) to go inside. She showed me where the meeting was going on. They were on a break and invited me to join them for some food. Empanadas and brownies never tasted so good on the same plate! When some of the participants recognized me, I felt warmly welcomed and took a seat next to someone who invited me to sit next to him. I felt right at home after a few minutes and was so glad I waited around instead of (indignantly) getting in my car to drive the 30 minutes back home.
The questions that came to me as I sat on the concrete, waiting for some sentient being with keys to show up, were questions related to the homily about opening the door for people. I was experiencing in a very direct way what it is to be locked outside when I really want to be inside. I find this metaphor of opening the door to be very useful as I’m thinking about the Year of Mercy proclaimed by the church for 2016. The word “mercy” is not one I use in my regular vocabulary. I know St. Francis mentions it in the beginning of his Testament, that the Lord led him among the lepers and he showed mercy to them. While studying abroad in college, I recall looking up the Spanish (and Latin) word “misericordia” which I had originally thought meant “misery” only to find it means mercy. Anyhow, I have a short history with the word and it’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. Metaphors speak to me and enable me to understand otherwise amorphous thoughts.
Here are questions for you and I to consider:
Who do I lock out?
Do I enjoy the safety and comfort of being on the other side of a locked door while others sit outside?