You’ve heard the old riddle “When is a door not a door?” Answer: “When it’s ajar.”
F. W. Boreham’s answer to the riddle was different. He said a door is never a door, because it is always so much more than a door. A door is one of the most intriguing mysteries in the world because of what may be on the other side of it, and what may go on behind it.
A door is a line that marks the frontier between the realm of privacy and the realm of publicity; a dividing line that marks two hemispheres: the personal and the universal. It is easy to lock the door between the two, said Boreham, but he who does so penalizes himself.
The door between the two must be kept unlocked. If I stay too long inside, I want to go out. If I stay long outside, I’m ready to go in. The street and the study need each other. Too much time in one to the neglect of the other impoverishes the soul.
The Church has often made the mistake of locking the door between these two spheres. Shall I be the monk and lock myself in? Or the missionary and lock myself out? Shall I put all my eggs in the basket of study, contemplation, reflection? Or shall I labor in the world with little thought for what Jesus said to the disciples when he told them: “Come aside and rest awhile”?
Detachment is good; but detachment that leads to no achievement is futile and abortive. Achievement is good; but the achievement that is not sanctified by devotion is shorn of its choicest glory.
The most exquisitely beautiful life ever lived among men was so crowded with achievement that it seemed to be continually radiating helpful and healing influences, and yet so marked by detachment that, when every man went to his own home, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. In Christ, the monk was never far from the missionary, and the missionary never far from the monk.
The door was always unlocked.
So said one of my favorite writers, Frank Boreham. (A Tuft of Comet’s Hair, 175–86)