Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Stay Near The Door: Reflections on Seminary

When I recently stopped by Mom and Dad's house I was handed a laundry basket full of my old stuff.

Mom had decided to finally move us kids out.

Being a neat freak myself, the last thing I wanted to do was to take a laundry basket full of childhood stuff home.  My initial response was to ask Mom to just toss it ALL. 

But then I caught a glimpse of an old book in the basket.  

A book that my husband, Roger, had given me when I was about 16.  
An old book written by Seward Hiltner, on Pastoral Counseling. 

I took the basket home.

I can't believe I had forgotten how long I have been wrestling with the idea of going to seminary.

Before Roger and I officially became boyfriend or girlfriend, back when we were "just friends," we used to talk about how we both felt called to the ministry in some way.   One of the first gifts Roger gave to me was the above mentioned book on Pastoral Counseling.  

Years later, here I sit, in Seminary, studying for a degree in Pastoral Care and Counseling.

I want to share this poem with you that was shared with me this past week.
It's written by a paster about his call to the ministry and I find it to be a beautiful way to describe this vocation that Roger and I find ourselves in.  

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 the door through which men walk when they find God.
There's no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for the door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it . . .
So I stay near the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door -  the door to God.
The most important thing any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands,
And put it on the latch - the latch that only locks
And opens to the man's own touch.
Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter -
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live, on the other side of it - live because they found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him . . .
So I stay near the door.

Go in, great saints, go all the way in -
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics - 
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest hidden casements,
Of the withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Som must inhabit those inner rooms,
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in,
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening . . .
So I stay near the door.

There is another reason why I stay there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great, and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia,
And want to get out. "Let me out!" they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled
For the old life, they have seen too much:
Once taste God, and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.

The people too far in do not see how near these are 
To leaving - preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door,
But would like to run away. So for them, too,
I stay near the door.
I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door,
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply,  and stay in too long,
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him, and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there, too.

Where? Outside the door - 
Thousands of them, millions of them.
But, more important for me,
One of them, two of them, ten of them,
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So I shall stay by the door and wait
For those who seek it.
I had rather be a door keeper . . .
So I stay near the door.


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