Invitation to Poetry: Closing Doors

Invitation to Poetry

Our Twenty-First Poetry Party!  I select an image and suggest a title and invite you to respond with your poems, words, reflections, quotes, song lyrics, etc. Leave them in the comments or email me and I’ll add them to the body of the post as they come in along with a link back to your blog if you have one (not required to participate!) I’ll add your contributions all week and then I will draw a name at random on Friday from everyone who participates and will send the winner a copy of my newest zine Season by the Sea: A Contemporary Book of Hours. Feel free to take your poem in any direction and then post the image and invitation on your blog and encourage others to come join the party! (a blog is definitely not required to participate!)

Last week I discovered this article about the advantages of limiting our options in a world where we have such an abundance of choices, both superificial as in what kind of TV to buy and the more serious as in where to live geographically or what kind of work to engage in. We have so many more options than just a couple of generations ago and it can be both liberating and dizzying.  Lately I have been contemplating the way I feel pulled in many directions sometimes because I have many gifts and many ways I want to express them.  I love the many facets of the work I do, but I recognize an inner pull or call to begin to consider saying no to some options as a way of developing myself in one or two areas. 

We tend to believe that open doors are signs of the sacred.  So I thought this might be worth exploring in poetry — have there been times when a door closing was a blessing?  Can you imagine which options you might like to limit in order to have a fuller sense of how you are being called?

And if somewhere deep inside you is a voice saying “no, I don’t want to close any doors” — then write a poem about that!


Shortlisted again
Despondent can I choose to
Bless the closing door

-Mavis at Set the Bird Free


I choose to close the door today,
On hate,
And violence,
On deliberate “misunderstandings”
And on a closed mind.
These things
Tempt me at times
To retreat
Into an enclosed fortress
Where I am right
And others are excluded.

So I close one door
In order to open another…
Yet I wonder
Do I have the right
To close any doors at all?

-Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes


Closing Doors

Give thanks for
the doors that close
on a past of regret,
or choices left behind.
Thanks be,
the closing doors that end
our looking back and cut
ties to things undone.
Give thanks,
for the doors that close
on endings, that were
once beginnings,
when those same doors
opened on possibility
and we stepped through.

-Tandaina at Snow on Roses


there is something so
defiant about waiting
to go nowhere

when the angles of
twilight press hard against your
lengthening shadow,

lifting you out of
having to choose
to do anything
or be anything

except alive and present
and completely free
to live inside each

moment that passes
with the drift of your dreaming
of no other life

but this one.

-Laure at Sometimes . . . Poetry


From Helen Keller: ‘When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.’

from an old journal entry:

facing out
walking away…
walking toward

embracing the mystery
filling the empty

facing out
trying again
starting over



Near flowing waters
embraced in shades of pine,
the artist’s door . . .
open to return to Nature,
closed to record the Sacred.




She stood in the shadow
of the doorway looking
out across the square.
I couldn’t tell her age
or temperament, if she’d
ever suffered, or if her pain
was still to come. Those eyes,
dark umbra of her soul,
wouldn’t tell. Nor could I capture
any spark of joyful recollection,
glint of sweet anticipation
or even some secret longing
radiating from her steady  gaze.

Still there was a beauty about
her, a formless mystery at once
appealing and yet estranging,
her story hidden in the shadow
of the doorway.

Then, as I watched, she sensed my
presence and, like a bird suddenly
aware of the birdwatcher, she
turned and fled into the darkness,
her burqa fluttering
as she flew away.

-John O’Hagan


See ’em stout hinges?
I made ’em–
beat the red hot iron
out myself,
hung the hinges
straight. You’ll not find better.

Master carpenter
planed his boards true,
joined ’em up so’s
even an angel couldna
squeeze through the cracks.

Me and him made this door
and many more like.

For doors is for keeping,
sir and madam,
keeping such as your selves safe
and harm without.

Close and lock as you need,
sir and madam,
fear not, for our
workmanship is sound,
our hands true.


mark you open
our handiwork
now and again,
lest the day come
when no one can.

-Black_Pete at Red Wine and Garlic



This is thusness
    that is thusness —

Open or closed
    it matters not.
As Shisen-jo says:
   “In the cedar forest
    a cedar gate.”

-kigen at Early Women Masters


Two aisles of cereal
Colourful boxes enticing
I choose oats
and make porridge

-Mavis at Set the Bird Free


Opening Doors

I walked up to the Fitness Center, pulling open the door.

And suddenly I thought of all the pastors who were walking up to the churches

they serve and opening the church door.

And here I was, again, opening not a church door, but a fitness center door.

Trying to open the door of healing, hope, wholeness,

wishing I were walking through a door of ministry rather than health care.

Is there a difference?

In the last 2 years I have opened hundreds of new doors:

doctors’ offices, pharmacies, hospitals, laboratories, yoga rooms, physical therapy rooms, testing rooms, locker rooms, swimming pools, therapists’ offices, car doors of those who give me rides, our own car door,

and each day the door to our home.

There are other kinds of doors that have been opened as well:

doors of fear and doubt,

doors of crying out “why?” and “where are You God in the midst of this pain?” doors of letting go, and letting go, and letting go some more

doors of anger and learning how to express it

doors of vulnerability

But there are also:

doors to receive the unending love and care and prayers of so many others

doors of forgiveness – of myself and others

doors of hope, healing

doors to a new dimension of faith

doors of unmerited grace, unconditional love

doors to my fearful and desiring, wounded and open heart

Do You not call each of us to keep opening the door, whether just a crack or flung wide open, to discover yet once again, Your gift of hope and resurrection in new and old ways?

(-from an anonymous reader)


I refuse to choose and
so the doors that lie before me
remain forever unopened

some sit ajar…just a bit
a crack to let light in
brightening the shadows of “what if”…just a bit
immobile, however,
the hinges grow stiff in their waiting

possibility remains trapped,
paralyzed behind the door
I refuse to let swing wide
saying to myself,
“what if it’s the wrong door?”

-Kayce Hughlett at Lucy Creates


Is it OK?

Is it OK to close the door?
What will people think?

Is it OK to end that friendship?
I don’t want to hurt her.

Is it OK to put myself first?
People expect a lot from me.

Is it OK to stop eating brocolli?
I just don’t like the stuff.

Is it OK to keep so many doors open?
Shouldn’t I focus on one interest?

Is it OK?

-Tess at Anchors and Masts


I love the idea of closing doors! I am realizing a sense of “too much” more and more often in my life…to many choices (we just purchased a flat screen tv from amongst an endless arry on display), too many creative ideas that I could pursue, too many art supplies (hard to embrace this one). I have felt the quiet invitation to slow down, cut back, say no to more and, in doing, so say yes to depth and presence.

I found this quote in the March edition of Artist’s Magazine, and photocopied the page for my journal. I guess the closing door idea has been calling to me for some time. This is from an article about artists who have devoted their lives to their craft. This woman is 65 and a watercolor artist. She says, “One of my biggest obstacles has been a desire to try everything that’s creative! I finally realized I needed to concentrate on one area and let everything else go. It takes a lot of discipline, and I struggle with this all the time.”

It helped to hear from another that the struggle is ongoing, something that has to be learned and practiced over and over. Every now and then I imagine what life would be like to focus on one thing…one project, one method, one idea…to live with just that. How would that be? It’s not easy, and I’m still in the “considering it” stage.

Thank you, Christine, for the image of the closed door. I imagine one hand closing a door that is behind me, and the other hand beginning to open a door that is in front of me. What is most appealing to me right now is to stay for a time in the dark hallway between those two doors. Simply stay and be…Blessings



“So, did you enter?” he said.
“The closed door meant no one else could enter,” she said.
“Was there a sign or something saying no one else could enter?” he said.
“No, there was no sign,” she said.
“Oh, well.  Well, you said that you wanted to enter,” he said.
Again, she replied, “Yes, I WANTED to, but the door was closed.”
“When you knocked, no one came?” he said.
“Oh, I didn’t knock,” she said.
“That’s too bad. The door was locked then?” he said.
“Oh, I didn’t have a key, why would I have a key? …..if that’s what you mean,” she said.
“So the door was locked,” he said.
“Oh, I don’t know, I didn’t try to open it,” she said.
“I don’t understand, you thought the door would be open to all who just dropped by?”, he said.
“Well….,” she said.
“And you didn’t knock, and you didn’t try the knob, and you really wanted to enter?” he said.
“Yes…., that’s right,” she said.
“Oh,” he said.

-Sunrise Sister at Mind Sieve


A Door

The peculiar design
of your hinges,
the bright radiant color of
your wood,
the solid iron of your
handle— these neither
invite or deny;
they cause me to wonder.

So I’ll wait for one
who will enter
or one who will leave;
someone to talk things over with.

Then I might know what to make
of you — divider of time.
Threshold from here
to where?
Rejection to welcome?
Fear to grace?
Despair to hope?

-Martha Louise Harkness


Behind the red door
are secrets I’ll never tell
memories good and bad
locked away

There are treasures there
broken hearts
failed dreams
shining moments
and instants that pierce my heart with joy

Sometimes I open the red door
and let the good stuff come out and play
Sometimes the bad stuff sneaks out and wreaks havoc
And sometimes I wonder what it would be like
to open the door, and leave it open
To air and share all the things
that make me who I am
and be

-Anne Sims at Stories and Faith


I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

-Paint It Black, The Rolling Stones
(submitted by Kievas Fargo)


Please don’t knock
I am away
I’ve gone on vacation
I need to play.
My mind is resting
My mouth sealed shut
Kicked back and relaxing
Firmly planted on my butt.
I cannot be social
Today is about me
No phone calls, or chatting
I’ve no place to be.
So if you come calling
The reds all you’ll see
I’ve gone on vacation
With no one but me.

-Nichol Newcomb


Not my ways

I knelt in prayer
to ask the question
which ought to be asked
so sure of the answer
this was a good thing,
for me, for the Kingdom of God
it wasn’t too easy
it wasn’t certain death
and so I raised up my question
and my hopes
so sure of the answer
only to hear something else
the rattle of a door not only closed
but locked too
a different answer which
opened doors for other people
and kept me where I needed to be
for my own self care
and I learned that
the ways of God
are not my ways.

-ymp at Means of Grace



I’m lucky,
you see,
I see,
the red door
we all live with.
Only thing is,
I’m no better off,
in figuring out,
to enter
or exit.

-Rich at Pilgrim Path


What’s behind yours?
Is it the monster under your childhood bed
Or that scary movie that won’t leave your head
The shocking story you saw on CNN
The face of Bin Laden with an evil grin
A miscellaneous box of guilt, regret, and sorrow
A past you can’t replace, steal or borrow
The thought of that thing that has no cure
Fear of your memories becoming a blur
Maybe it’s good times you want to keep near
Like that special someone you love so dear
The first time you went camping in the dark
Riding your bike with friends through the park
The crazy nights you spent being wild
Or is it the memory of the birth of your child
The individual reasons are too numerous to list
Or it’s all the above in a confusing mist
We all have one for these reasons and more
All I ask is……
What colors your door?

-Steve Newcomb


i sit here longing to discern which precious doors are being closed just out of lack of trust, longing for that healed. And yet… having too many open doors, our own “surplus doors”, is just as real a problem. Closing doors in a sense is a very real part of having a simpler and rooted life, of pruning to bloom, of… deepening peacefulness. Peace is after all one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit….and fruit needs pruning, needs healing “walls” around it, needs limits, to be able to soak up the nourishment it needs to even even bloom at all. A closed door can simply become a wall after all….and we all know how important walls are to a true Home….

-excerpted from Wendy’s lovely post at a Bluebird’s Table, you can read the whole reflection here


The door to dreams

Years ago,
I tried to lock my dreams
behind that door.

No more dreams,
no more hopes
of a life together.

But they must have
slipped secretly underneath
to follow me on the winds.

I tried to put time
and distance between me
and any hope.

It was important
to walk away and
let the dreams chase me.

As I peered through
other shaded windows,
my heart kept turning to you.

So, when the door opened again,
I knew these dreams were
too much a part of my being

… to be denied.

-Pamela McCauley


I left the church
When they painted the door red.
I was about nineteen
And “The Blood Of Christ”
Seemed gory and violent
I didn’t want that bloody image
To reflect on me.

I’m in my fifties now
I still read the Book of Common Prayer…
That old one from 1928.
I like the sound of “thee’s and thou’s”
And I tolerate the harsh words
Of the General Confession.

I call myself Congregationalist
And I love this church of peace and liberation
That honors all people
Fights for the rights
Of the poor and gay and black
And worships a Lord of Life.

But even still
When the world seems harsh and frightening
When I am anxious or aching or alone
I sink inside myself
And recognize there still lives
The little Episcopalian.

-Suz Reaney

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

(door photo taken last summer near the Rock of Cashel in Ireland)

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