Wednesday, September 30, 2015

If Your Soul Looked Like A House...

I had the rare luxury of walking through a neighboring neighborhood this morning.  It's a neighborhood much fancier than mine, where everyone hires landscaping crews and pool boys.  As I walked, I felt myself drawn to some houses and repelled by others.  They're almost all huge and red brick, so it wasn't something so simple as size or color.

I didn't realize this unconscious process was even going on, until I passed a house that was gated and fenced off completely.  The only thing that wasn't inside the wrought iron fence was the mailbox.  Even so, the front door had its own additional metal gate.  "Wow", I thought.  They must not want visitors, which is fine by me because when I see their house, I want to cross/run to the other side of the street. 

I began to pay attention to how I felt as I passed each house, and realized something.  The same thing happens with people.  Not surprising really, since people are houses, too.  The most sacred kind of houses, called temples.   "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?"  (1 Corinthians 6:19)

While we may not agree on which person is the most attractive or the house we'd most like to live in, I think we could agree on which ones were most inviting and which ones definitely were not.  

If our souls were actual houses that we could see, I wonder what a neighborhood of souls would look like?!  What neighborhood would my soul-house fit in to?  Would it be "rich" (in God's grace) with beautiful flowers, a front porch, and a welcome banner?  Would it be "poor" in the slums with barred doors and windows?  Or "poor" in a rich neighborhood, all locked up like the one I saw this morning? 

I've never experienced this more personally, than on days spent "on the floor" at the hospital...Going from room to room, knocking on the door, introducing myself and the availability of chaplain services.  The responses range from "No thanks" to "You can come in, if you want" to "I'd love to visit with you."  You get the picture. 

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."

Maybe our soul is more like a house than we know.  It sounds like it has a door and some place to eat.  Maybe a dining room table.  In Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales mentions windows, too:  " your morning prayer, you open your soul's windows to the sunshine of Righteousness, and by your evening devotions, you close them against the shades of Hell."

The good thing is that Christ knocks no matter what.  He doesn't cross over to the other side of the street.  He comes to the rich and poor alike.  Doors and windows wide open, cracked, closed, locked, fenced off, or barred.  It doesn't matter, for now.

Are you happy in your neighborhood?  Is it your dream house or just what you could afford?  Maybe it's time to plant some flowers, take the gate off the door, or move altogether.  Lucky for us, there's still time to build the house we want, in the neighborhood we want, and we already have everything we need to do it. 

Dear Lord of Neighborhoods - Rich and Poor,

Thank you for time to walk this morning, legs to walk with, and a beautiful neighborhood to walk in.  Thank you for thinking enough of us that You would allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within.  Thank you for Your Divine Patience as You stand at our door and knock.  Please give us the grace to see our "house"  as you see it, and to make the necessary improvements, so that You may enter at the time of Your choosing without undue obstacles or delay.  Understanding you as the Son of a carpenter is making more sense all the time.  Thank you for making Yourself available to us, giving us a hand with the "housework", and for being the "one thing necessary".  Amen.