advent journal: holding the door


Two or three times on Facebook today I saw a picture posted of an engraved quote at the FDR Memorial in Washington DC. It reads,

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.

What is most astounding to me, I suppose, is that those words create disagreement. It seems to me that our most natural response should be to take care of one another, rather than judge or accuse or assume the propensity for possessions is some sort of indication of talent or divine favor. An honest look at the news will tell you that rich and smart are not the same thing. Neither are rich and blessed. Rich and privileged—now you’re on to something. But I digress.

I have been looking for hopeful words to offer this week, and that quote is a hopeful word because it calls us beyond ourselves. It calls us to remember life is a team sport and not a winner-take-all affair. The hope of humanity lies in our capacity to care for one another. In the crush of people trying to get through the doors at Grand Central this afternoon, I saw a woman walking slowly with a walker in front of me. A young man got to the door ahead of her and didn’t see her at first. Just as I was about to try and speed up to open the door, I could see her presence register in his peripheral vision and, even though he had already gone through the door, he turned back and held it open for her and smiled. It was a small motion for everyone except the woman.

Hope is not believing that everything will get better as much as it is trusting that we are here for each other. Hope is living as though it matters that we notice the details. Hope is holding open the door, even when you’re in a hurry. Our actions may not be carved in stone, but they will be remembered.




  1. As someone who now must occasionally rely on a walker I often experience the kindness of others and it so appreciated!

  2. I’ve been hungry for your words. Thank you for your courage to “listen better” and to speak when many of us can’t form words to make sense of the day-to-day barrage of negativity. As I listen to stories of the continued fallout from Harvey’s devastation in Houston, I hear friends who lost everything talking about their experiences – they choke up not when they speak of what they lost, but when they tell of strangers who evacuated them in fishing boats to a place of safety, who continue to house them and offer Christmas trees and ornaments and clothing. People who came from outside of Houston – as far as Boston and Tennessee. People who were “there for one another” – some from New Jersey who came simply because Texans helped them during Sandy; others just because they could help. There is hope in what I see at eye level. There is good in this world. I love you, dear friend. Thank you for never giving up.


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