A Bed of Doorknobs
People we don’t really know offered their home on the ocean to Debbie and me for some quiet time. It’s beautiful, spacious, full of personality, and, wow! What a view! (there may be no angels in LA, but there sure are some wonderful people!)
I forgot about the traffic in this area, so was shocked when the GPS predicted that the hundred mile drive would take four hours. We were exhausted when we arrived, but, even so, hesitated before entering the beautiful home:
We passed the garbage bins on our way from the driveway to the front door. These people are so clean that even their garbage bins take showers! The bin stands underneath a shower, and even has bottles of shampoo and conditioner. “Debbie, I don’t want to stay in the home of people who are so clean that even their garbage bins shower! What if we drop a crumb!”
Debbie foolishly believes that they simply placed the large bin underneath the shower they use when they return from the beach. Come on! Does she really believe that people who bathe their garbage bins would even go to the beach and get sand on their feet?
I don’t argue with Debbie, at least not in public, so I sterilized my clothes and skin and entered the house. (I still think I was right about the shower; the home is spotless.)
We had a wonderful and relaxing evening and eventually went to sleep. I woke up in middle of the night and when I placed my hand on the bed frame to lift myself I felt a doorknob in my hand. Accustomed to my usual middle of the night disorientation, I assumed that I was opening a door in my dream, but I wasn’t dreaming. There was a doorknob on the bed. When I went upstairs I noticed doorknobs on the wall.
These are unusual people: they invite strangers to use their home. They placed a bottle of wine, corkscrew and two lovely wineglasses on the table for us. They bathe their garbage bins. They have doorknobs on beds and walls. What kind of people are they?
I’m sitting on the beach, listening to the waves, learning some Yom Kippur texts, and it all comes together: One of the major themes of Yom Kippur is our pleading with God to open “The Gates of Prayer,” “The Gates of Compassion,” “The Gates of Forgiveness,” and “The Gates of Purity,” culminating in our desperate Neilah prayers as the Gates are closing. The many mentions of gates got me thinking about, you guessed it; doorknobs!
Some of us approach Yom Kippur furiously attempting to take advantage of the open gates. Other people, such as our incredible hosts, approach Yom Kippur as “Gate Openers,” people who see every one of life’s opportunities as a gate to be opened. They walk around with door knobs, so to speak, determined to find a way to open every doorway to growth.
Some people have a home on the beach. our hosts have a home to share. Some people wait for God to open gates for them. Our hosts keep a steady supply of doorknobs handy, prepared to constantly find new opportunities for growth.
Even “Gate Openers,” come in different forms. Some are focused on the challenge of opening the gates. Others, are focused on what lies beyond the open door. They want to open the gates for what they will discover beyond. They don’t only maintain a steady supply of door knobs, they prepare themselves for the beyond, in a state of cleanliness and purity; even their garbage bins shower.
Yom Kippur is the culmination of an entire year for people who live as “Gate Openers” all year. Their Yom Kippur is a promise of a year filled with one gate of opportunity after another. Their Yom Kippur is their chance to spring ahead, unconcerned when others are worried about the gates closing. They can just grab a door knob off the bed or wall, (spotlessly clear doorknobs, of course,) and open those gates even as they officially close. No wonder all I could do in this home was learn, think and pray. There was a sense of endless possibilities.
So, my dear hosts, thanks for your hospitality, and even more so for the Yom Kippur lesson. I hope we left your home as clean as you left it for us.
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