“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” — Revelation 3:20
I’ve never been able to imagine hiring a housecleaner. I actually love household chores, and keeping my little space cozy and ship-shape, and laying a place for the uninvited guest.
In a way I keep my house prepared for Christ. Thus, if he did come and knock, he would know instantly that he was in the “right” place.
He’d spot my prayer corner (a seat on the sofa I’d immediately cede for him to use as his throne), with a candle, incense, a book that includes the Psalms he loved and stories about him: his teachings, his life, death, and resurrection.
He’d see pictures of him and his mother all over the place. He’d discover a statue of him pointing to his Sacred Heart on my desk, and in the living room, a carving of him nailed to the cross where his love for mankind was consummated.
Adorning the lintels he’d find prayer cards of some of his favorite friends — Sister Benedicta of the Cross, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Oscar Romero. He’d be able to greet St. Eugene Mazenod, patron saint of dysfunctional families, on a fridge magnet, and in the bathroom bestow a blessing upon St. Dymphna, patron saint of the mentally ill, who guards the shower.
He’d come across music, again by some of his dearest friends: Beethoven, Bach, Glenn Gould, Billie Holiday.
There are books about different aspects of his life, and about our lives as we try to follow him. He’d find books by David Sedaris and Betty MacDonald, in case he needed a laugh. He’d have access to novels by Dostoevsky, Georges Bernanos, and Flannery O’Connor, and to films by Robert Bresson, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Werner Herzog.
There’s food and drink in the kitchen, plenty of coffee, ice. In the bathroom he could help himself to first-aid cream, Band-Aids, a hot-water bottle, an extra toothbrush, a new cake of soap, fresh towels.
He’d have access to a phone charger and a laptop, in case he wanted to catch up on his email. There are envelopes, stamps, pens, and cards in case he felt like writing thank you notes.
I’d of course sleep on the sofa and give him my bed. There he would have a nice down comforter, a good reading light, a rosary of purple glass beads, a print of his treasured intimate St. Martin de Porres, tending to the sick and feeding the mice, and fairy lights strung around the ceiling to remind him of the moon and the stars which he arranged.
By the bedside would be Post-Its in case he came upon a passage in a book he wanted to mark and copy out later, Benadryl in case he was suffering from hay fever or insomnia, and cherry cough drops.
Outside, I think he’d enjoy the west-facing patio with a chaise longue and low table for his drink, snacks, and books. In the morning, he could set up shop there and listen to the dawn chorus. As dusk fell, he could sit and look out over the pergola, watch the rose-breasted house finches and hummingbirds, listen to the murmur of the mourning doves, and pray vespers.
Then, of course, there’s the garden! No one responds to a garden like Christ. He observed the mustard seed, the lilies of the field, the mulberry tree, the fig tree, the olive. He wept tears of blood the night before he died in the Garden at Gethsemane. He met Mary Magdalene in a garden after his resurrection: “Mary.” “Rabboni!”
In a way, I tend my garden, lost in thought and prayer, simply so that, should Christ come to visit, I could welcome him there: could invite him to marvel at the magenta bougainvillea, could point out to him the euphorbias, agaves and succulents; could share with him how I, too, love the plants and bushes and flowers and trees and butterflies and bees that the Father created; could offer him a seat beneath the sycamore tree.
“Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.’ And he came down quickly and received him with joy” (Luke 19:2-6).
The fact is that Christ knocked at my door a long time ago. I came down quickly and have received him with joy ever since.