National Catholic Reporter
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Starting Point
Issue Date:  May 2, 2003

A door on the second floor


Two men delivered my furniture and I liked them a lot. I never got their names and feel bad about that now but I shook their hands and offered them a Coke before they started to move the furniture. I ordered a lot of furniture and they said it was the largest delivery of their day. And then they said that they did not know that I lived on the second floor. They smiled at each other and told me that happens a lot. The man at the store where I bought my furniture did not ask me what he was supposed to ask about the heights at which I am now living. And I did not think to tell him all on my own. It did not seem relevant to me at the time.

So these two guys came and things were not as they expected and I thought to myself how true of my own life and perhaps yours, too. Heights and depths open to us at the most unexpected time. Maybe the Coke helped -- we got to work right away. I say “we” because one of the men came upstairs and looked at the door through which he had to move a large desk. He shook his head as he looked at the door and said, “That ain’t gonna work. This door’s gotta go.” I looked at him and told him that I could take the door off if he showed me how. “You got tools?” he asked, and I said yes, not knowing just where the tools were in the garage downstairs. But, I thought to myself, isn’t that so like life, too, where we say we have certain tools for this and that and then have to hope we can find them nearby, before the truck of life pulls off with the stuff that we need to live.

I went down to the garage, looked around a bit, opened a drawer here and there, and found just what I needed: the ordinary-looking tool box. And when I opened it, all the goodies were there -- pliers and screwdrivers and nails and wrenches and a lot of things that made no sense to me when I looked at them carefully. Again, how like life. So I closed the box and went upstairs and the men showed me several ways, actually two, of taking the door off. One way needed a hammer, whereby I was to simply remove two long bolts that held the hinge to the doorway, and the other way involved unscrewing the hinges of the door. The first seemed easier and it was. I bashed away and got the bolts out and lifted the door with ease and laid it against the wall.

The men approached, carrying the desk, and I noticed as they made it through the door-less door that there would have been ample room with the door still there. I did not have to remove the door. I did not say anything. I figure it best that I not say such a stupid thing since what good would it have done? The desk was in, the door was off, we were finished and I tipped the men when we got back downstairs and off they drove into the sunset.

I came back upstairs and put the door back on. I looked at my nice new desk. Everything went well.

I suppose that all of life has its unexpected heights and its unwelcome moments of narrowness. Things get heavy at times. Doors have to give way. Measurements are sometimes off. Coke helps. So does a tip. Nothing went right but it all seemed to go right. The tools were where I needed them to be. The sun looked so beautiful as that truck drove off.

A chair was not delivered and the men told me that it was back ordered. “We’ll be back in a few weeks,” they said almost in unison. I thought to myself, maybe I should I have kept the door off? Well, at least they know that I live on the second floor.

Sometimes I wonder what deliverance is. What is the connection between the deliverance of furniture and the deliverance of salvation, of getting to heaven? What are we being delivered from?

We did pretty well that day, considering everything. Things sort of fell into place. Now maybe I think that deliverance in the more elevated sense of that word may mean that we get what we need to do what we must as we move from one level to the next. Coke and tips help, as we drive off ever nearer to the sun.

Fr. James Stephen Behrens lives and writes in Covington, La.

National Catholic Reporter, May 2, 2003

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