Joyce Rupp is a writer, spiritual "midwife," and retreat and conference speaker. A member of the Servite (Servants of Mary) community, she is the author of many books. This immensely creative and spiritually refreshing work unravels a treasure trove of insights and meanings from the image of a door. Rupp did a similar thing when she started with a cup in The Cup of Our Life, and we are glad she has returned to this capacious structure.
The devotional material is arranged in a six-week retreat with a daily thematic reflection, a guided meditation, an original prayer, a thoughtful question, and a related scripture quote. In addition to this material designed for personal use, she includes at the back of the book rituals for groups to integrate/celebrate each week. There are readings, greetings to each other, chants, prayers, dialogue questions, large group sharing, songs, prayers, and blessings.
We love the idea of using an ordinary object in our everyday lives as a key to unlocking spiritual riches:
"Doors give us an opportunity to make connections and find meaning in life. No wonder this image slips easily into our metaphorical language, providing ways to describe changes of attitude and activity. We 'get a foot in the door,' find 'a door of opportunity,' wonder what's happening 'behind closed doors,' and speak of 'coming in the back door.' Only yesterday I heard someone remark, 'When I closed the door on my last job, a whole new world opened up for me.' "
This exploration of opening to our deeper or true self is divided into the following chapters:
• The Door of Our Heart
• Knocking on the Door
• Opening the Door
• Standing on the Threshold
• Closing the Door
• Beyond the Door
Before beginning this retreat designed for spiritual growth, Rupp presents "A Prayer for Openness":
"1. Touch your fingertips to your forehead, saying:
Open my mind to remember your presence.
2. Touch your fingertips to your mouth, saying:
Open my mouth to speak your wisdom.
3. Touch your fingertips to your heart, saying:
Open my heart to extend your love.
4. Hold both hands out, open, palms up, saying:
Open my hands to serve you generously.
5. Holding arms wide open, saying:
Open my whole being to you.
Make a deep bow to the loving presence in you."
In her delineation of "The Door of Our Heart," the author uses a tasty smorgasbord of quotes from Thomas Merton, Macrina Wiederkehr, Jalaluddin Rumi, Drew Leder, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Dawna Markova, John O"Donohue, Anne Lamott, J. K. Rowling, John Milton, and others. Here is a prayer she includes for groups:
"Respond to each of the following: We welcome you, Door to the Sacred.
You stand at the door of our hearts and offer us the joy of your constant companionship. . .
You stand at the door of our heart and offer us merciful forgiveness for our failings. . .
You stand at the door of our heart and offer us the ability to welcome more of our authentic self. . .
You stand at the door of our heart and offer us inherent wisdom to guide our way. . .
You stand at the door of our heart and offer us strength to walk with our struggles. . .
You stand at the door of our heart and offer us unconditional love. . .
You stand at the door of our heart and offer us the gift of mystery. . .
You stand at the door of our heart and call us to go inward to the unknown and the unnamed, to seek our home in you. . ."