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How many doors do we open and close within a given day: to our homes, our cars, to our places of work, to institutions and places of commerce, to homes of friends? Are we aware of the different kinds of doors, hinged, folding, sliding, rotating, up and over, and so many more, some with locks and some without? Does crossing their threshold alter our energy? What or whom are we keeping in or keeping out?

Such questions must have influenced the earliest reproductions of both single and double doors depicted upon walls of Egyptian tombs in the Nile Valley. Here, the door symbolizes an area, closed off from the profane, similar to later ornamental doors found on mosques, monasteries, cathedrals, and temples, orienting the worshiper toward its mysteries within. And museums around the world preserve doors removed from ancient Eastern and Western homes. A set of Roman folding doors from a first century AD estate in Pompeii, ruined by Mount Vesuvius, can still be seen in the Archeological Museum in Naples.

Even more importantly, there are other doors, closer to home, the door to our hearts. Their challenge is to pray for discernment, to discipline our instincts, and to savor the new knowledge that crowns this effort. Thus we thrive in our flawed humanness and bring our unique gifts to fruition among others.

 

 

“I’m seeing His face,” gasped Basil of Antioch as he emerged from his dream of the Last Supper; the beardless one, in the center, seemed to school his slender fingers as they tooled the damp clay into an astounding likeness: wise, discerning eyes set apart beneath the broad forehead, the long nose, the briefest of smiles that masked a tortured spirit.

Basil’s commission had been to fashion a circlet for the handcrafted pewter cup from which Jesus drank during His final meal, with the twelve in the Wall of David. He was to recreate this scene in silver, superimposed upon grape leaves. Arduous travels around the Middle East produced likenesses of all the participants save that of Jesus. Enemies of the Way were already mushrooming in the first century.

Such a narrative unfolds in Thomas B. Costain’s historical novel The Silver Chalice (1952). Its tattered blue cover, streaked with watermarks and smudges, opened me to the enthusiasm of Jesus’s first followers, alive with His teachings, in Jerusalem, Antioch, and Rome. No matter the dangers, even death, that courted them on all sides and compelling them to live in secrecy and poverty. In hushed tones they greeted each with “Jesus is risen!” My heart burned within me.

So why does Jesus’s simple message create persecutions that continue into our times, especially in Middle East Nigeria and other countries around the world? The Internet lists such atrocities.

Why the aversion to live His Way in humility?

It does work! It really does!

 

 

 

Such is the perspective of Leah Friedman, octogenarian author of this slim book of essays that is available on Amazon; its sepia photo of a framed drying bulb, one taken by her, portends to the richness found on each page.

Through the lens of seasoned wisdom, she counters the strictures of ageism with anecdotes from her kaleidoscopic life as an academic, wife, mother, widow, grand- and great-grandmother, photographer, author, lecturer, friend. Beneath them, stirs a vibrant and inquisitive spirit, because of which her aging readers readily identify with her. In unvarnished words she lays out the terrain of her sixties, seventies, and eighties, each with their tasks and challenges, not without losses and unexpected surprises. Referencing poets, psychologists, and theologians nuances her impressions within a larger frame.

An adept with life-long change, she can now say, “On one level I am awaiting my demise, while at a deeper level I am continually in the process of discovering who I really am.”

 

Available on Amazon

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