Re-branding

Finally, on a Wednesday they walked through the door at the bottom of the garden. On the other side, all identity was erased. No longer defined by race, or gender, or religion, or nationality … anything. This meant the pros as well as the cons. It all had to go. Now just a number, X17359 was a little sad, because some of the old identities were useful and conferred a bit of priviledge. But there was no way to separate the wheat from the chaff with this process. It all had to be burnt away in the purifying fires of re-branding. Even the new “name” was as un-unique and vague as possible, with no accompanying meaning for or against. The “names” were even randomized so people couldn’t brag about how long ago they had walked through the door. Not like they wanted to, not after that experience, but this way there was no chance of temptation.

For you see, nobody was forced to walk through that door, a nobody who had gone through mentioned it to others. It wasn’t advertised, but everyone knew about it, one way or another. Some thought about it every day until they finally just did it, and for some it barely registered with them and they never did. But they all knew. It was encoded in fairytales and scripture. It was woven into pop lyrics and advertising jingles. It was never overt, but it was always there. It was kind of like a pattern you could only see when you had polarizing sunglasses on. It was hidden in plain sight, but only those with eyes to see noticed.

My door collection

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At 88 Kitchen – a Chinese buffet in Madison, TN

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Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ (near the Howard School Building)

 

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Downtown Cookeville, TN

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Ferdinand, IN  – at Monastery Immaculate Conception

 

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Super solid door in the bathroom at Henry Horton state park, TN

 

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At Sewanee – a college on Monteagle Mountain.  A very narrow door outside of a classroom – an emergency exit?  You’d have to be skinny.

 

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At Sewanee – under the stairs in a building with classrooms.  A tiny hatch.

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At Sewanee – a very tall and very narrow door.   A supply closet?  A professor’s office?

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At Sewanee – the entrance to a bathroom.  Almost TARDIS like – it was bigger on the inside.  Very hard to get in, though – the sink was very close to the door.

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Outside Tulip grove elementary school – a utility building?  A tiny metal door.

 

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LLanthony, Wales. An abandoned priory.

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Tintagel, Cornwall

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Atop the Glastonbury Tor
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A tiny door – at the Frist art museum, part of the “Woman on the Run” exhibit by Tracey Snelling.

 

Don’t worship the door.

“Jesus once said ‘I am the door’ – and he was correct. A door is something to go through. The church, however, has remained at the threshold of the door, worshiping it, afraid to enter.” – former Episcopal priest Peter Calhoun in his book “Soul on Fire”

“We worshipped Jesus instead of following him on his same path. We made Jesus into a mere religion instead of a journey toward union with God and everything else. This shift made us into a religion of ‘belonging and believing’ instead of a religion of transformation.” – Richard Rohr

“A rich young man approached Jesus, and kneeling down before him, said ‘Good Teacher, what do I have to do to attain eternal life?’ Jesus asked him “Why do you call me good? There’s only One who is good, and that is God. If you want to have eternal life, then keep the Commandments. Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie about anyone, honor your parents, and love your neighbor as yourself.” — Matthew 19:16-17, Mark 10:17-19, Luke 18:18-20 (from The Condensed Gospel rendition, in “The Rich Young Man”)

Jesus never wanted us to worship him. Jesus wants us to follow him to God. Only God is above us.

Remember all the times that Jesus walked away from the crowds who were trying to make him king? He didn’t want it. Even today, the Jews use the fact that he wasn’t an earthly king to prove that he was not the Messiah. They also say that it is idolatry to worship Jesus as God.

Jesus would agree.

Remember the commandment to “have no other Gods before Me”? That includes Jesus. He constantly pointed people back towards God. He didn’t want to be worshipped. He wanted people to follow him to God.

Christianity has made an idol out of Jesus, rather than seeing him as a teacher and a guide.

The red doors of St. Meinrad’s Archabbey

Red is a common color for doors in liturgical Christian churches. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the fire and spark of God that animates all things. Interestingly, red is also the color that Tibetan Buddhists use to mark its buildings that have a statue of Buddha in it, as well as the color of the robes for their monks – for the very same reason. Red is a symbol of the Divine presence within. Red is also the color of Torii gates in the Shinto faith tradition. They are used to mark spiritual gateways, to indicate that beyond them is a holy place. It can also be described as being a visible symbol of the Presence of God, or as Jews would say, the Shekinah.

These were taken late September 2015 in St. Meinrad, Indiana, at the Archabbey and the seminary.

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The front of the Archabbey with the three sets of red doors.
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A closeup of the Yale lock on one of those doors, with the red paint better visible.
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Writing and beading – on reusing ideas

Every now and then I think that I shouldn’t start a post because I think I’ve written about it before. Sometimes I have, and I’ve forgotten. Sometimes I have, but I don’t feel like I’ve fully explained my point. I very well might have already written on this exact topic of writing about the same thing multiple times. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

And then I realized it is OK.

I do the same thing when I make jewelry. I don’t use all of a strand of beads up when I make a necklace. I have some left over. I use them again with other beads and I get a different effect. Or I’ll not quite get across the look I was going for and I’ll try again with another creation.

Rarely am I able to get across in reality what I envision in my head. If I can’t do this with beads, than how can I possibly do this with words? If I can’t properly envision how the beads I have right in front of me are going to look together, how can I envision how ideas, which are amorphous at best, are going to look together?

While I don’t want to waste my time writing the same topic over and over, I’m learning that part of the process of being a writer is to just write. Even if I intentionally write about the same topic, I’m going to write about it differently every time, because I’m different every time.

Figuring out the answer to a question is like trying to open a closed door. You’ll try different ways to get in.

Sometimes you can just knock and someone will let you in.
Sometimes you try the doorknob and it opens.
Sometimes you have to pick the lock.
Sometimes you can’t pick the lock so you have to look under the door.
Sometimes you go to see if there is an unlocked window on the side of the building.
Sometimes you have to bring a sledgehammer and just get in by brute force.

And sometimes it is about understanding that the “answer” is just the answer you got right then, and it isn’t THE answer, and it is OK to work on that door again, another day.

Doors of Sewanee.

The University of the South, also known as Sewanee, is found on Monteagle Mountain, in Tennessee. It is glorious. It is beautiful. It is a regular university with regular classes, and it also is a university that trains Episcopal priests to be Episcopal priests. Walking on the campus makes me think that I’ve been transplanted to England, three hundred years ago.

There is a lot to this campus, and it is fun to prowl around it. There are many fun nooks and crannies, and most of the buildings are open for the casual wanderer. I’ve taken many pictures there over the years, but here what I’m going to share with you are some examples of doors from Sewanee.

I don’t think they know how to make normal sized doors here. This was found on the second floor of a building that has rooftop access. It is outside of a classroom. Perhaps it fits the fire code’s requirement to have two ways out of a room. Perhaps it is a joke. I’m not very wide anymore, and I think that even I would have to turn sideways to use this door.
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This is a tiny bathroom. It is just big enough for one, barely. I think the door looks a bit like the TARDIS.

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Here’s a classic door from Sewanee. Lots of stone and wood and iron fittings.

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Here’s a detail shot of it.
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This was on the door for the “Center for Religion and Environment.” In order to find this office you have to find the bell tower. And then you have to go up about five flights of steps. Maybe more. Only fit people can come up here. The room for the bell is just opposite this door. It was lovely to listen to the hiss and wheeze of the pneumatic valves that work the mechanism. It was a little overwhelming to listen to the bell ring that closely, however.

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Here’s a tiny door underneath a flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs is the observatory. I have a fascination with tiny doors. I don’t know if I love tiny doors because of Alice in Wonderland, or the other way around.

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And last, but not least, are some doors for professor’s offices. Perhaps the doors are adjusted to the height of the professor, in the same way that Frank Lloyd Wright adjusted the homes and the furniture he designed for the size of the client? Or perhaps they got a discount on mis-matched doors?

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This is outside another office. The door is normal sized, but I really like the tiny clipboards so people can leave him notes.
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Sure, I didn’t take any pictures of the usual doors you’d expect to see there. Anybody can take those pictures. I wanted to share with you some doors that the usual person wouldn’t see.

I leave you with these words from Jesus in Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

On keys, and doors

I am mesmerized by keys.

I collect antique keys and make them into necklaces. I love the look and feel of old metal keys. I imagine their history. Who used them? How many people have owned the thing that this key unlocks? How many hands have touched these keys?

This tiny bit of metal is all that is required to open up this huge door, this wall that is standing before me like a bouncer at a club, saying None May Pass. This tiny thing is all I require to gain access to my heart’s desire.

Perhaps this fondness comes from Alice in Wonderland. Everything got a little strange when she fell down that rabbit hole – but to me the first really strange part was when she encountered that tiny door behind the curtain.

She had the key, but she couldn’t figure out the right sequence to use the door.

I like keys like this, and stories like this. I like real keys and imaginary keys. I like what keys represent.

I have a TARDIS key. You know, just in case. Just in case time and space travel is real, I’m ready if Doctor Who just happens to leave that beautiful, mad, blue box parked along my walking path that day. It is good to be prepared.

I have a key to a phone booth. I have a key to a piano. I have a key to a Ford that was driven long before I could even say the word “automobile”.

These keys are beautiful and poetic and sad. They are missing their locks. They are missing their purpose.

But I keep them anyway. You never know.

They are kind of a focus, a meditation tool. Always be prepared. Notice that it is a small thing that opens a large thing.

What doors are in front of me? What is barring my way? What have I not even noticed is a door, that is preventing me from getting where I need to be?

If you have a key, you’ll be reminded of the door. One points towards the other.