"Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret."
A wisp of memory came to me of Parker Palmer's book, Let Your Life Speak, brought to mind because of the reference to closing doors. It's a short book reflecting on vocation from the lens of his own experience. This piece in particular turns on a Quaker phrase: "Have faith, and way will open." Palmer tried meditating on that:
After a few months of deepening frustration, I took my troubles to an older Quaker woman well known for her thoughtfulness and candor. "Ruth," I said, "people keep telling me that 'way will open.' Well, I sit in the silence, I pray, I listen for my calling, but way is not opening. I've been trying to find my vocation for a long time, and I still don't have the foggiest idea of what I'm meant to do. Way may open for other people, but it's sure not opening for me."
Ruth's reply was a model of Quaker plain-speaking. "I'm a birthright Friend," she said somberly, "and in sixty-plus years of living, way has never opened in front of me." She paused, and I started sinking into despair. Was this wise woman telling me that the Quaker concept of God's guidance was a hoax?
Then she spoke again, this time with a grin. "But a lot of way has closed behind me, and that's had the same guiding effect."
So those of us who find ourselves sitting outside doors firmly closed to us, take heart. We are in good enough company, and at least if the door behind you is firmly shut, that's one less door to try.