A confession: I've never really understood 'grace', as in the grace of God.

However a sermon I heard yesterday gave a simple and illuminating image I've been pondering since: grace is an open door. Or, because I can't leave well alone, opening a door is to be open to grace.

My instant image was of opening the door to the doorbell and finding a telegraph boy (no, I'm not that old) with a letter which shone, like sunlight, as though he was delivering a fragment of God-self. Accepting the letter made me a little different.

An open door: analogy for an open heart, able to receive, and also for an open hand, able to give. An open door to allow God in and to let me out.

Much of all our lives is lived behind doors, closed and locked. The door marks the divide between what is mine and everything else, between what I do (in private) and how I present my self (to the outside). The door symbolises the anxiety and insecurity which accompanies possessions. It is the focus of vulnerability, the point where the comforting walls have a necessary gap.

We externalise our self in our possessions and, in turn, they possess us (witness the sense of violation when someone is burgled). Doors lock us in with our insecurities, but we know them so well that they become a comfort to us.

To open the door is to be vulnerable to what and who is outside: vulnerable to rejection and vulneable to being wanted. To invite someone into my space is not only to show them more of who I am but also to risk being changed by them. To go out into the street is to be exposed to all kinds of people, all kinds of risks.

I am a private person. I have spent much of my life deliberately hiding myself from your gaze. I have spent much of it welcoming people into my home in the least open ways possible, protecting my space and my self from their intrusion. I have burrowed safety inside me in such a way as to hide everything I think important. I have built my security on my insecurities.

And so, by analogy, with God's grace.

To unlock and open a door is to be vulnerable to God-self shedding light in dark places - with the dual risk that they be shown up for the darkness they are or, just as worrying, shown up as not dark at all. The mesh of insecurities which I think holds me together becomes loosened and less effective. To open the door, to accept the telegram, is to be changed.

Equally, and simultaneously, to open the door is also to go through it, to step out of my self-possession, to put my head out of my shell and discover daylight. Because I opened the door I can risk meeting other people with my heart and my hand (a little) more open. I can, perhaps, loosen my habitual insecurities enough to offer strangers a little of myself and to do so with less fear.

In the giving and the getting God's invisible grace may be seen: fragments of God-self which change people.

Blooging is interesting in this regard - public, searchable, and always hidden behind a screen, not even with a photo of myself. Mostly I stick to the impersonal, to issues and the church elsewhere but, if you were interested, I do post very occasional poems - some more personal and some not so much - on another blog.


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