arts & creativity, church, Scripture, spiritual

Door of Hope: A Photo Essay

From last week’s lectionary readings:

“Therefore, I will now allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
From there I will give her her vineyards,
and make the Valley of Achor* a door of hope.
There she shall respond as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.”
~ Hosea 2:14-15

*Achor = trouble, struggle. So, yes, you might say God will “make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope.”

St. John’s College (Santa Fe, NM)

They say “when God closes a door, He opens another one.” Or maybe this: “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”

But, I’ve started to think of it this way: “When God closes a door, She opens a paint bucket and builds some beauty.” God makes beauty out of boring, color out of chaos, veritable art out of valleys of Achor.

Church of the Incarnation (Dallas, TX)

A little late afternoon light reaching through a darkened door, making possible a stained glass window prayer? Telling us where in the world we are? Door of hope.

Duke University Chapel (Durham, NC)

A wash of morning light moving slowly over a threshold, marking the passage of time? Telling us when in the day we are? Door of hope.

Church of the Holy Family (Chapel Hill, NC)

A church door red as the blood of the lamb that was slain, as though all who dwell there might be marked by mercy and life while sin and death pass by? Telling us who and whose we are? Yes. What a door of hope.


2 thoughts on “Door of Hope: A Photo Essay”

  1. Julia,

    Enjoyable reading! Your mother called and reminded me of your blog. Insightful and thoughtful. I hope you don’t mind me commenting.

    “A little late afternoon light reaching through a darkened door…”

    I like that line. I call them “glimmers.” A thought that opens the door to an unexpected path. Then tying into this, please allow me to crack open another door: I noticed you used the word “she” when referencing God at one point. But consider the biblical use of pronouns to be deliberate – and the book of Hosea as a prime example. Pictures and parables are used throughout the Bible with the bride/bridegroom theme carried from cover to cover. Knowing this, the male/female dynamics becomes a tool in understanding the relationship between God and man, God and Israel, and Christ and the church. The biblical storyline then becomes less a book of morality plays and more of a courtship, with Hosea demonstrating one of its many complexities. God is a “he” because you and I are the “she.”

    I look forward to reading more. Thank you.

    Ted Clemens

    1. Thanks, Ted! I was so pleased to receive such a thoughtful comment as you offered. I would absolutely affirm the biblical storyline as “less a book of morality plays and more of a courtship” as you said. I would add that, in God’s nature as “far more than we could ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3), God is a “he” and also not limited to being a “he.” Biblical language portrays God as a father and also sometimes as a mother (sometimes attributing to God the protectiveness of a human mother, mother hen, or mother bear), with Isaiah offering several instances of this: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).

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