Is that barrier really fixed?

Is there really no going through that gate?

Is it a barrier or a gateway?

Is it a barrier or a gateway?

Having taken an unscheduled but necessary break from blogging, the decision to pick it up again brought me great anticipation: which of the various ideas bubbling within me will make their way into the world at this time?

The one theme that will not go away is that things are not always as they seem; and what may appear as a firmly locked door may actually be waiting for you to give it a little push. For instance, on a rainy morning recently, I dashed out of the house, altered my route partly because my usual route had delays. I was 10 minutes away from work when I realised I’d left my security pass at home. Now, like most modern office buildings, ours is large one, sprawled across multiple floors with multiple entry and exit points accessible only by the swiping of a pass. Getting into work without your pass means queueing up at Security to get a temporary one issued; then as my locker key was attached to my pass, I had to get somebody from Facilities to unlock my locker with a master key; and then I needed a special code to enable me use the printers.

This was my second time of going through this and I was more mentally prepared for the ‘hassle’ this time around. So I queued patiently at the security desk. Waited. And waited. And waited. . . Finally, I received an apology: the system was down, I could come back later to get it done or just get colleagues to let me in whenever I had to leave the office for the bathroom or for lunch or for whatever else. So a bit of an additional nuisance – that should help me remember to pick up my pass every working day, I promised myself.

It actually wasn’t too bad. I didn’t have to wait too long before somebody inside heard me over the clatter of computers, telephone calls and office buzz. At other times somebody else would be coming in and I’d ‘tailgate’ them happily. Until towards the end of the day, one of my colleagues seeing me waiting by the doors, let me in on a secret: only one of the double doors needed the security pass to open; the other one just needed a push! He did just that as he was speaking to me. Gobsmacked, I tried it – gave it a push and it opened! So, all through this day when I’d been waiting patiently to be let in, I just needed to push one of those doors? Erm…yes!

The next day, I had my pass. And several times during the day, I chose to not use my pass, preferring instead to just push through the door, almost effortlessly.

A couple of days later, I decided to cut through the park on my way home from work – again not my usual route … but I am learning new ways, developing new grooves, new pathways as I invest in my health and wellbeing. By the time I got to the gate I needed to exit through, it had been locked – properly locked with a padlock and a chain. So I beat a fast retreat – but, not fast enough, for, by the time I got to the gate I’d entered through, it had now been firmly locked (I checked thoroughly!). So, here I was, trapped in the park – or at least so it appeared. Then I saw a jogger and called his attention.

“How are you intending to get out of here?” I asked

“Oh, there’re a couple of gaps in the fence,” he said,

He proceeded to show me the gap nearer where I was to be exiting, explaining that the gates get shut if sundown arrives before the published closure times. Ok, now I know … and he went on to say it was either going through the gap or climbing over the fence.

On getting there, although it wasn’t a massive gap, I knew I could make it through. Some 18 months ago, I couldn’t have considered trying either options. But then when I was nearly 5 stone  (30kg+) heavier than I am today, I wouldn’t have considered walking that distance when I could so easily drive!

Long story short, I slid through the gap in the fence and smiled all the way home with springs in my steps…

Gaps in the fence

Gaps in the fence

These recent encounters reminded me of an experience I had during a retreat organised by Crossroads Retreats a few years ago. I’d gone for a stroll around the lovely gardens of the monastery venue of the retreat and came across a shut gate. There were no instructions on the gate. There was no one around to ask if it was ok to go through the gate. Indeed it appeared as though the gate was firmly locked; if there were a sign, it would have read, “Trespassers shall be prosecuted.” I stood there for a while, looking around to find any of the guides; there was none in sight. Eventually, I tentatively reached across to the other side of the gate…pulled back the bolt…pushed open the gate. Then waited. Nothing happened. No one told me off. I wasn’t struck down by lightening… I therefore walked through the gate, tentatively at first… and carried on walking along the path, thinking, ‘So all I needed to do was just open the gate and walk through!’  As I carried on walking, I approached a larger gate. By the time I got to it, one of the retreat guides was coming through; she opened it and held it wide open for me to walk through – into a much wider, open space. I recall standing in that wide open green space dotted with trees… strong, enduring trees, and breathing in the new possibilities that whole experience was speaking to me about.

I am continuing to learn that the things that try to hinder us are not always as mighty as they might seem. If we need to get somewhere (be it the office, our home or the fields; or be it our goals, our dreams or aspirations), barriers, doors, fences and gates are not immutable. Neither are they immovable nor impenetrable. They are there to be discovered and opened, scaled or glided through.

What are you going to do about the barriers in your life today?