I don’t know when doors began to fascinate me as objects–it was a long time ago, as my collection of door photographs will confirm. Perhaps because I’ve hung doors myself, I admire the skill that goes into hanging one well–true and plumb, without gaps or loudly protesting hinges, perfectly balanced–or designing a door that ideally suits a room or an exterior. I have marveled at the carving on some of the doors I’ve photographed, especially when it is complimented by beautifully crafted hardware. The way time and weather burnish and mellow an old door gives it a sense of history and even greater appeal.
But a door is more than an architectural feature. It is an intriguing element of a building, as it performs a function that no other part of the structure can. Not the thickest or strongest part of a wall–quite to the contrary–even the simplest door is universally esteemed as a sacrosanct opening through which entrance is granted only by possession or permission.
The unauthorized opening of a door is the violation of a sacred trust. An invasion. A crime.
A door slammed in anger is a brash statement of exclusion: “I’m in, you’re out–and that’s how it will stay until I choose otherwise!” The door represents access to one’s person, not simply to one’s space.
The turn of a handle and the movement of a vertical plane only ninety degrees can be a watershed event in a person’s life.
On the other side may be a soldier returning from battle, either whole or irreparably damaged. Or those bearing the news that the soldier will never pass through that door again.
It can signal the return of a prodigal child asking for forgiveness or an estranged friend, spouse or lover seeking reconciliation.
It can mark the exit of another person not only from one’s home, but from one’s life–in death, or anger, or the search for freedom or adventure.
The squeak of a door can expose a dreadful, life-changing secret.
On the other side of a door there can be a room full of friends shouting, “Surprise!” Or a house empty for the first time after the loss of one’s beloved.
On the other side of a door there can stand an old friend whose arrival has been anticipated for weeks–or not at all. Or a dog practically beside itself with joy. Or a criminal bent on theft, rape, or murder. Or a gift arriving by courier from across the globe.
The surrender of the keys to one’s door is a poignant and permanent act. It is the granting of access. Perhaps one is selling one’s house and leaving it forever. Or one wants another to share the space behind the door. Or to allow free passage, as with a responsible child or house sitter.
So when I see a door, I see relationships and events and stories carved–or maybe even kicked–into a slab of wood.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice an opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3.20, ESV)
He understands what a door represents, and He desires access to the hearts and minds and histories and relationships of His children.
(I took these photos on 19 March 2012 in Minas, Uruguay. RHH)