Opened Doors

16 Aug

Today my wife and I celebrate 27 years of marriage. When people ask me how we met, I always respond, “She just showed up at my door one night.” That is true, but the story is not quite that simple, and it is, I think, a bit entertaining, if not sweet.

Bonnie was doing field organizing for the organization for which she worked in Washington, DC, where she lived at the time.  I was living in St. Louis, in a mixed lay- clergy Catholic (Jesuit) communal house, an old doctor’s mansion, close to the St. Louis University Campus.

One of the things we did as a house was to provide hospitality to people visiting the area for various church or service purposes. Bonnie had found out about us through the church network and had arranged for she and her co-worker to stay with us.

So, one night, the doorbell rang. I was watching Star Trek, I think, and got up to answer the door. There before me was a tall, blue-eyed, blond and some bearded guy. I showed them to two of our open rooms, and then largely forgot about her. I think I hardly saw her that week.

Heck, I didn’t even necessarily care for Bonnie at first. It turns out she was quite businesslike, and left her Ms. Magazine around the place. What kind of chick was this? Well, after that trip, she visited St. Louis, stayed with us again, and things started to go a different direction. We’ve had a wonderful, blessed marriage, family and life together. Thank you Bonnie. I love you!

As I think about chance meetings or one-time/short-time opportunities — open doors — I think that one never knows what might come next if we open, or step through, any given door. The thing is, we may shy away from stepping through because of the potential risks, but we also then turn away from the potential good things that might await us.

Me starting in Taekwondo practice was also a fluke, with my having to start classes just so that my not-quite-five-year-old son could join the class. That certainly went places we never imagined. Every time I touch a life in a recognizable way in my Taekwondo instruction, I realize that, at least for now, this is exactly where I’m supposed to be, supposed to have been, and I am tremendously moved by the opportunity I’ve been given.

Only in these past few years have I really started to wonder about a “God’s plan” in my life, in people’s lives. I’ve wondered about our lives moving certain directions because of doors that were presented to us and through which we chose to step. I’ve considered my sometimes-made statement of, “I should have gone to a different college than I did” (Providence College) to attend somewhere further from home. Had I not gone to PC, the entire rest of my life would not have been able to unfold as it did, and I truly can’t imagine it turning out better. It’s far from picture perfect, but it’s a pretty damn good life, with lots of love, laughter, blessings and opportunities. Maybe it is perfect after all.

A Grand Master in our Taekwondo organization has often pointed out that when an opportunity presents itself, consider it carefully. Consider if you really want to, should, or need to pass it up, because that same opportunity will never come around again. A similar one might present itself at some point, but never the exact same opportunity. Once it’s passed, that opportunity never returns. Choose to take it, or choose to pass on it, but consider it carefully.

God’s plan? Who knows for sure, but I’m sure glad I’ve stepped through some doors, and I’m REALLY glad that I opened one particular door in St. Louis, on Westminster Place, 27 years ago on this date. In light of that chance meeting and all it has meant to me, our children, and many others for nearly three decades, I now believe that every place I’ve been and all the things I’ve done are exactly where I was supposed to have been at that moment in time, getting prepared for whatever was coming next. Further, I still feel that I am getting prepared for some next steps that will come when I choose to open whatever doors that are presented to me.

Listen for the knock on the door. Should you open it, step through it? Choose carefully, because you may have no idea what awaits you.

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