Collapse and What Comes After
musings on sliding doors and too much snow
“The door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door”
Since I last wrote to you all on this newsletter of mine, my part of Minnesota has gotten about 16 more inches of snow, which is normally cause for celebration and joyful merrimaking in this winter-loving household. And we certainly did find abundant joy as it was coming down, sledding down the big hill with abandon and fortifying ourselves for walks through the snowy woods. However, this round of snowfall was thick, wet, and heavy and it proved too much for our cobbled together second hand high tunnel,and we couldn’t keep up with the snow removal. It collasped in on itself overnight. We went in the door we could pry open to find the middle four hoops had snapped in half and a foot of heavy snow was pooled in the new low, largely unreachable, spot.
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Have you seen the movie Sliding Doors? I have to admit that I don’t really remember the plot very well, other than in tandem story lines, a woman misses her train by seconds as the doors slide shut in one, and in the other she makes it and goes on with her day as planned. Her choices, as a result of missing the train and going through a different door, alter the course of her life almost beyond recognition. In the movie, at least as I remember it, she doesn’t consciously choose to miss the train. But she does miss it and goes through a different door than she normally would have chosen, and we see the chain reaction of events that emerge as a result. It can be a scary thing, a door. An unwanted thing. A joyous thing. A choice to make, or one that’s made for you. Whatever comes with the door’s appearance, it can lead to a shift.
A lot of snow is overwhelming for even for the most winter-loving of us. This time it certainly did create a door we didn’t really want to go through, one that led to frustration, overwhelm, sore backs, and broken shovels. I kind of just wanted to pretend it hadn’t happened.
But we just started shoveling and clearing and thanks to my spouse’s creativity, power tools, willingness to work in the dark with a headlamp on, and extra bits of lumber, the high tunnel will stand for another day. It looks a little haggard now, but you can walk through it again without hunching over or fearing for your life.
What if passing through whatever door is right in front of us, or choosing a different one that isn’t quite as clearly marked, is essential for our wellbeing and wholeness? We all have doors in our lives. Some look inviting, and we can’t wait to find out what’s on the other side. Some are just standing there open, ready to welcome us whenever we chose to walk through. Some seem locked, some are swinging back and forth systematically, some are creaking on their hinges. Some we have to pry open. Some won’t let us through, even though the path beyond looks perfect. Some slam shut on our hands with no warning.
Most of the time (i.e. all of the time) we simply can’t know the outcome of our choices. Even if the plan is completely straight forward, and the path seems crystal clear, life has a way of muddying the waters. We miss the train. Loved ones get sick. The high tunnel falls in. Our interests change. We learn something new that rocks our worldview. There’s an earthquake, a fire, or a hurricane. We have to start over. We want to start over. We realize we have to find a way to accept the present, or to be in our anger without letting it burn us up, or to use a hard discovery to craft a door from ashes. We realize we have to find a way to use what we have to heal, or to create needed change.
There is plenty of hard stuff going on all around us. The weight of a weary world sometimes feels too heavy to carry. Doors open and close without our consent. Snow piles up, and hard things stay hard. Yet despite this, what if we could muster up the courage to cross every threshold that presents itself as a worthy option? The crossing may not be graceful and it may take longer than we think it should. It may be painful, and lead to more hard things before the healing is noticable.
There are no easy answers, of course, no three step program “crossing a threshold you don’t want to cross”. But we can be kind to ourselves when the fear of uncertainty fills the doorway with shadows and let gentleness lead for awhile. We can reach out for help. We can help another who feels stuck between worlds. We can take a deep breath and look up at the sky. We can stop blaming the door for breaking promises it didn’t make.
After all, it’s only a door.
The last few days have been glorious, now that we’ve moved through the frustrating parts of the winter weather events of late. The sun came out, along with the snowshoes. I got out to a state part to cross country ski and had the trails off the beaten path to myself. My ten year old and I tried to make a luge run down the big hill in the hayfield. (marginal success…). There are a lot of doors to walk through in this human life, and I’m always grateful for the ones that lead toward beauty. Here’s to walking through the doors you need to walk through, and noticing the good stuff that remains even when the shadows persist or the path is rocky.
P.S. T-minus three weeks or so til Collisions of Earth and Sky is out!
A high tunnel is basically metal hoops covered in plastic, a structure many vegetable farmers use to extend their growing season.
It’s worth saying that we don’t make our living by farming, and this high tunnel in winter is more of a storage shed than anything else. What happened isn’t catastrophic by any means—but it sure felt defeating to stand there looking at all the work required to clear the snow off and brace the broken parts up for the rest of the winter season.