Waiting at the Closed Door

Finally the door is opening. The Whisperer hasn’t been heard from in four days. Maybe because I’ve faced the closed-door in my life and made some difficult decisions.

On Friday I decided to move from Albuquerque to Santa Fé. This was unthinkable before because by moving I am leaving my husband behind, or at least our last years together before his suicide.

It’s strange but this town has never felt right. It isn’t a fit for me and I don’t know why. I suspect it has to do with all I suffered here.

I feel friendless although I do have what I would call practical friends. Those who share a meal with me at a restaurant, those I see at church or even those I exchange birthday cards with. But I haven’t met anyone in Albuquerque who shares their life with me. Perhaps the best way to characterize Albuquerque is that it is an antiseptic that may have been good for my wounds.

This morning, Sunday, I went to Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Santa Fé. I used to tell my therapist when I lost my faith that I missed God and I missed liturgy. When I received my faith back, I got God back. Today I got liturgy back. With it, I prayed with all my senses as well as with my mind and my soul. It was glorious and exhausting. I guess it was a return to the very thing that brought me to Christ.

The Orthodox church this Sunday commemorates the women who came to the tomb carrying myrrh to anoint Jesus’ body. The priest said the women were the first apostles. I like that. He pointed out that timing was everything. Had they come to the tomb sooner the stone would have still been in place. Instead they waited and when they came the stone was rolled back and they were the first to know that Christ was no longer in the tomb. The priest said that to wait for a closed-door to open or in the women’s case, a huge rock to be rolled back is not a vacant activity devoid of meaning. It is a time of active waiting and often yes, a time of suffering. But if we don’t wait for God’s time then we may miss the resurrection.

All of this makes me think of the trial of Job. Fr. Pat Reardon says that Job didn’t know that God was trying him. His friends said that because God was just then Job’s punishment was for sin he wouldn’t admit. Job knew he had not sinned. However, God knew, Satan knew and the Bible reader knows that Job’s suffering was a trial that gave God glory in light of Satan’s taunts. That Job suffered because God allowed it. The odd thing is that God never told Job why he suffered. But it was enough for Job to understand how great God is. He understood that his questions needed no answer in light of who God is.

Now that is an example I would like to follow.

2 thoughts on “Waiting at the Closed Door

  1. I think that all very good news, Michelle!
    I love Santa Fe. Of course, you know it far better than I, I’ve only been there as something of a tourist, and that not recently. From the mid 1980’s through the early 1990’s, my parents lived in Los Alamos (Dad worked at the Lab), and it was one of my favorite places to visit. I also have fond memories from hiking in the Sangre de Christos mountains in my teens, and a few other early trips. After a few years away, when they decided they wanted a slower pace than the city where they were, they told me they were moving back to New Mexico. Well that made sense; they had loved Los Alamos so much, but where? Turned out the answer was Roswell. ROSWELL! That seemed to me about as far from Los Alamos, or Santa Fe as you could get! About all I could see that they shared was the election for Governor. But they loved it there. Of course, they are the sort of people who tend to love it wherever they are.

    I can see a lot of sense in a move to SF. Perhaps it will help untie you from the memories of the last few years – not that you will lose these memories, but that they will be more like things you have, rather than things that have you. Please remember that there is nothing disloyal in the move. I may be reading it into your words, but I wonder if I do not hear just a note of that feeling in your phrase about leaving your husband behind. He, both the good and bad, will always be a permanent and important part of the story of your life. It does not diminish him at all that there is a subsequent chapter.

    I love what you said about Orthodox liturgy. I came to faith as a Southern Baptist, and was drawn into the Anglican Church in my mid 20’s. Although I had been on good terms with the Baptists when I left, I came to characterize that sort of worship as something the spirit and mind did. The function of the body was to chauffer the soul to church, then sit quietly until it was time to carry the soul home. All of the physical movement may be a very low form of worship (as we would have said at the time) but truthfully, it is the highest form of worship my physical body can reach. If I am to come before God as an integrated whole, there must be a way for my body to enter in to the worship of God, as well. I found this very refreshing, and well, integrating. I know the Orthodox do this in even stronger terms. Also, there have been times when in my spirit I was too down to enter into worship. In those times, it sometimes happened that the obedience of the body could carry me along until something caught in my soul. Sort of like push-starting a car. It happened to me this morning. I have had a pretty emotionally down week, and was praying about that before the service. Moaning and Groaning to God is more descriptive. Then suddenly, the Choir broke out in a glorious polyphonic “Alleluia” that swept all my complaints away, in a flood of “Eric, you do know that it really isn’t all about you!” It was rather wonderful.

    What the Priest said about the women at the tomb seems very sound. One of the great composers (my mind says Mendelssohn, but I am almost certainly wrong) once described music as “silence, separated by notes.” That time of waiting, of silence, is not empty. It is full of expectation. It is the conductor raising his baton before the next movement, and all is still –all is ready, waiting only on the “fullness of time” to break forth. To refuse to wait is to repeat the error of Abraham and Sarah, and rush God’s timing by engineering an answer to the promise themselves (with Hagar). I could even make a case for that being Eve’s error. The serpent did not promise her anything that was not the Father’s good pleasure to give her if she had waited. But the “Fullness of Time” will come, Easter Morning is ahead. May you and I wait expectantly, so that we neither miss it by resignation, nor by our sloth in looking forward to what God will do.

    I love Job. And never forget that even though all Job’s friends answered soundly, at the end, God said that only Job had spoken rightly (even with all his challenges to God), and that they should listen to him. You are right that God never answered Job’s questions. My summary statement has long been that while Job’s questions were never answered, but Job himself was.
    And it was enough for him.

    Please forgive this over-long outpouring. but it is your own fault for inspiring so much.

    You sound good.
    R. Eric Sawyer

    (p.s. I really like the “new look”)

  2. One last thought on Liturgy and the Open Door…

    One of the reasons the women were where they were, when they were, is that they were dealing with their grief by using what some would call “the Means of Grace;” they were following the rites for the respectful care of the dead. They were letting their spirit (powerless to do anything) be carried by the bodies ability to do at least this little “meaningless” liturgical act. Thus, they were there to see.

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