Living Well

Open the Door

It has been quite a week here in our Boston suburb. By now, the world knows about the bombing that occurred on Monday afternoon at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The initial shock, as the first report appeared on my cell phone, turned to a persistent urge to watch and listen to as much newsfeed as possible – at first trying to understand what had happened, and imagine who had done it. What was in the heart and mind of the person or persons who, with detailed planning and precision, carried out this incredibly horrific act?

Since Monday afternoon, I have read and heard many, many inspiring responses to this event, and have just now finished watching the moving and powerful interfaith prayer service held in South Boston. But I have discovered that what is arising in me most persistently is the question: what can I do? what difference can I make? I’m not a first-responder, a ride-giver, a blood donor, a surgeon, a political leader, a crime investigator, or even a parish pastor. I’m not a family member or friend of someone who was injured or killed. In some sense, I find myself feeling as though I am holding an energy of desire to do something, and no clear outlet for that energy.

And then I saw a brief article and video in the e-newsletter I get from the Good News Network. And my outlook has changed from one of frustration, to one of clarity and purpose. The story is about a HS student from Canada. For many years – as he was growing and developing his sense of himself in the world – he encountered daily bullying because of his lisp. His battered and bruised heart and soul, losing sight of his essential goodness, unraveled into depression. He could, so easily, have turned toward isolation and violence in response. But he didn’t.

His family moved during his HS years, and he was faced with a decision about how he would enter into this new community with the fear and deep sadness that were his regular companions. And he made a decision. He would simply hold the door open for his fellow students. What began as a simple gesture became his identity. Kids in his school began to call him ‘the doorman.’ As time went on, he was crowned Prom King and voted student with best personality.

eweweBut there is more. Students interviewed about ‘the doorman’ reported that their behavior, and the behavior of other students had changed. In the dog-eat-dog HS environment, they began to notice that kids were reaching out to each other to help out, come to the aid of one another. The environment itself was changing.

So I’m going to be more attentive to my practice of opening doors; of greeting people eye-to-eye, face to face; of offering a kind word, and a helping hand. Because in the face of all that can be horrific, the simplest of gestures – like holding the door open – can change hearts.

If you’d like to read more and watch the video about his young man, click HERE


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