The season of spring always heightens my awareness of how much I appreciate openness. I emote something positive when I see signs that say “Open for business,” or when I think about the ‘open road’ or hear the musical ‘heart beat’ intro to Tom Petty’s ‘Into the Great Wide Open’. Opening buds and blooms, open waters and skies, open windows and doors, the wide open mouths of hatchlings in the nest bespeak of opportunity, hope and possibility. They call us to be engaged, to emerge and live.
On the other hand, as things open up around me I become more cognisant of those closed spaces within and without me which threaten to choke and stifle life. Spring awakens within us something I like to call the ‘clutter flutter’. It’s the hankering we feel to spring clean, followed by a heap of yard, garage and rummage sales. T.V. programmers tout our penchant for accumulating more than we need with shows about pickers, hoarders and battling bidders at storage unit auctions.
It’s both sad and funny to hear folks who possess so much bemoaning not having enough time or energy, “my hands are full” and “my plate’s full.” Life sure is hindered when I’m stuffed up, congested and constipated. Clogged drains are a nuisance and clogged arteries are scary. Closed minds and clenched fists leave no room for sharing or caring. Reciprocally and equally heart-rending is the incapacity to receive.
We live in a world where fear, loneliness and disengagement are reinforced by closed door meetings, closed boarders, closed minded partisanship and other polarizing self protective postures.
So it was refreshing to witness and be a part of a recent public forum that facilitated openness. It happened outdoors in a chilly breeze under the rain soaked gazebo in Kew Gardens with folks of different East End faith communities. It was there that we openly recognized that we had much for which to be grateful and that we had much to share. We opened the doors of our individual meeting places in order to move out and into the company of each other.
Undaunted by the inclement weather, under open umbrellas, we opened our mouths and hearts with expressions of thanksgiving. We opened our minds and hands to opportunities for compassion. We listened with appreciation to the musical, poetic and literary expressions of each other’s faith. We were open to receiving and savouring the companionship of old friends and new friends.
For the congregation of Calvary Baptist Church, the multi-faith service in the park dovetailed with another event in which we were glad to be invited to participate, Doors Open Toronto. Opening doors is a tangible, outward expression of an inner dynamic that enables life to freely be, to freely move and freely become. It’s a dynamic that we endeavour to foster in our church. We are mindful that experiencing life in its fullness is more possible when our hearts and minds are open, when our eyes and ears are open to life giving exchanges.
I know that for many the name ‘Baptist’ justifiably connotes rigidity and closed mindedness. The irony is that historically and for a great many Baptists today religious liberty and the freedom to interpret scripture is defended passionately. Sure there is risk in being open. However when it comes to really living, being closed is a dying proposition. So here’s hoping that this season of spring finds us all more courageous in letting go of the things that ‘bung us up’.
And here’s hoping that we are more open to the joy of receiving unwrapped gifts and free surprises, the blessings that enable us to live, move and breathe unimpeded and deeply.