We are experts at putting up barriers, at shutting down, of protecting our closed (and often tightly locked) doors. We have put up barriers between ourselves and God, and between ourselves and other people. Our 'busyness' helps us justify our barriers. And we try to fool ourselves that we do, too, have people close to us; just look at all our Facebook and Twitter Friends! Look at all those we 'know' all around the world...
But, in reality, I can count on one hand the friends who truly know me, who take part in my daily life, who share my worries and my small delights. I think of my Grandmothers, who lived in such a tiny world in comparison to the one I live in now. Especially, I think of my maternal grandmother. She lived in a tiny Kansas town that didn't even justify a dot on most maps. There were maybe 150 people in the town in the good years. But all of those people knew my grandmother. They knew her habits, and if she hadn't walked 'to town' to get her mail, there would be several to call and check to see that she was OK. They had eaten homemade bread in her small kitchen. They knew who and where her children were, what was growing in her garden, who was coming to visit. If she had rough spots, they knew it and helped her get through them. They were neighbors and friends in the very true sense of the word. She did not lock her doors. She did not build barriers. Her life was open to those around her, and I believe it made it easier for her to live a life open to God, as well. She had very little material wealth, but she was a very rich person.
We build barriers because we are afraid. We are afraid that, if we open our doors to God, there might be nothing behind the door. If we open ourselves to other people, they might hurt us or take advantage of us. I love to watch people, but it is a rare thing anymore that anyone looks back at me. And occasionally, when someone looks up and catches my glance and my smile, they look almost shocked or embarrassed to see someone interact with them in that small way. Most people walk looking down, or into their cellphones. Many keep headphones on, or chatter away on their phones to someone at a safe distance. They have huge DO NOT DISTURB signs written in their body language, that speaks to everyone around them, and to God. If we cannot love man, whom we have seen, how can we love God, Whom we have not seen, and Who is best seen in our interactions with other people? (1John 4:20)
You know best the barriers you have built. If you are like me, there are some pretty big and strong ones surrounding you. I am not a person who lets down the barriers very well. I am socially shy, but as I type that, I know that it is also an excuse, a barrier I have put up. If I can just let the cracks in my stone walls open up little bits at a time, I do believe that God will help me in tearing down some of my barriers. He will let His Son shine in, and beautiful and risky relationships will come in to make my life the rich one He wants me to have.
(A note: The photos in this post were all taken by me in Paris last spring. )