open & close
several weeks back we were in harlan for a quick weekend thing. dad and i went out for a stroll around the barns and yards. i had been out with my camera the day before trying to capture some shots. i was looking for those things that hadn’t changed in the midst of a gradually changing landscape. where there were once lots full of livestock, there is now grass. where there were fences, there is now no rigid boundary between house-yard and field. where there was painted barnwood there is now steel siding.
so i went inside the barns. looking for detail. like hooks. light bulbs under which i spent nights waiting to help ewes bring new lambs into the world. wooden doors with the afternoon sun beaming through cracks…doors i once pushed open and walked through. fence panels and gates bent under the force of cattle or hogs pushing their wills against ours. i found some things in one shed where it was too dark to get the photos i wanted. so dad came out with me on sunday. he opened the door to let the morning sun bring light to old oil cans and funnels and wooden chicken coups and wheelbarrows. all relics of a long-past season of my life. i snapped this shot as dad, now eighty-one, pulled the door back shut.
during the early seasons of my life, dad and mom were in the practice of opening and shutting doors for me. not so much these days, but there is a long history of it. sometimes i welcomed what they opened for me. other times i feared it. sometimes i was angry at the doors they tried to shut for me. it felt limiting at the time.
i want to be able to open doors for my kids. to give them opportunity. to expand who they are and what they experience. at other times i want to close doors. to protect them from some kind of irreparable harm. and like me with my own parents, my kids don’t always agree with the position of the door. there are times when closed doors look more inviting to them than the ones that are wide open.
right now…it feels as though there are too many open doors in my life. too many things pulling from too many directions. that causes me to live on the surface. shallow. superficial. more reactive than proactive. my day-to-day experience feels thin and disconnected. i need to be reminded of what norm and jo tried to teach me when i was young and thought i could do way more things well than reality actually permits. sometimes less is more. and a good pruning is the most necessary thing for health and productivity.
I am reminded of jesus’ words in john 15. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”