Standing at the Door

Samuel Shoemaker, in his poem, “I Stand By the Door,” writes:soft-church

“I stay near the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,
The door is the most important door in the world—

It is the door through which people  walk when they find God.

People . . . Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only a wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like the blind,
With outstretched, groping hands.
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door
Yet they never find it . . .
People die outside that door as starving beggar’s die,
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter
Die for want of what is within their grasp.”

This haunting poem brings back vivid memories of leaving the Emergency Shelter at Simpson United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, one sub-zero winter day. My family had helped at the shelter that night. On the way to the car, one of my children drew my attention to a man finding refuge in the doorway of the church. He had a single blanket wrapped around himself as he lay huddled for warmth in the bitter cold. Throughout the night he had lain there, outside of the warmth of the shelter within.  He had been “outside the door” while fellowship, warm coffee and hot chocolate, a place to sleep and the security of being in a warm room, lay inside. He had missed out.

There are many people who “miss out,” who “miss the door” and the message of God’s love, acceptance, forgiveness and grace. When I ask people about their faith and what it means to them, I hear words about God being present. They talk about care and other expressions of loving compassion, found in their faith community.

Samuel Shoemaker used to invite people to experiment with Christianity. He invited them to surrender as much of themselves to as much of God as they could accept at that time in their life. He encouraged them to pray and open their hearts in honest dialog with God. I would invite you to do the same. Experiment with the Christian faith. Start a journal. Write your prayers in plain and honest words. Open your heart to God through your honesty. Be willing to go where God leads.   What I know to be true is this – God always hears our prayers and the groaning of our hearts – God wants no one left outside the door.

* Samuel Shoemaker a portion of his work ” I Stand by the Door” (Paraphrased)

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