At the house where I grew up in New Orleans, our screened porch and front door were always latched and locked, and as a family we rarely came and went that way. The front room was not a place where we received guests and sat to visit; interactions and life occurred in the den in the back of the house, which was just off the back yard and backdoor. For most of my life I never even had a key to the front door. I usually went down the driveway, into the backyard through the chain-link fence and entered the house through the back door. In the summer when someone was home, the back door would be open to let the air flow through and cool the house, but the screen door might be latched. I would call through the screen door, and my mother would come to unlatch it and let me in.
God is like that – taking the side entrances and back doors of our lives. We want to receive God into the front room of the house where the best furniture is for visiting. Sometimes God prefers the less traveled routes into our lives and hearts – the doorways into the rooms where wounds, disappointments, and messy daily living can be found. I think maybe God likes the most comfortable room of the house, the one where the sofa has something covering the tears in the cushions, the television is always on, and people are fully engaged in their humanity with one another. God is messy, and humble, and likes to dwell with us in those places.
God knows our needs better than we do. God is familiar with the home of our soul and its back door entrances. Just when we think God won’t show up, or won’t show up where we think we need it, God comes – always comes – at just the right time and in just the right circumstance, often through a back door, a well-worn room, where life happens.
We should prepare our hearts and souls to open to God with beauty and joy, but also remember to leave a back door open for God too.
Sister Ann Marie Wainright
Sister Ann Marie Wainright is a Benedictine Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she worked as a CPA for many years before earning dual masters degrees in counseling and pastoral studies. Sister Ann Marie is interested how people encounter God in their daily lives and how they use their faith and spirituality in meeting difficult challenges.