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posted 15 Feb 2016, 14:24 by Fran Brady

 ‘When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window,’ says Maria, alias Julie Andrews, in The Sound of Music. I always thought she was quoting someone else but a quick google challenge assures me that the saying actually originates in the film. Beginnings often mean endings, the old gives way to the new, the open window leads to - or comes from -  the closed door.

I have two god-daughters: one is five years old; the other is twenty-five. Within three days of each other in January, the five-year-old’s mother died suddenly and the twenty-five year old had her first baby. A door slammed unexpectedly and we were plunged into shock and bereavement; a window burst open with the premature arrival of a three-pound baby and we were excited.

We pray a confusion of bereavement prayers for comfort, strength and peace at the same time as gratitude prayers for a new life and pleading prayers for the baby’s survival and thriving. 

It is times like this that we sense the assembly line that is mankind and get a glimpse of a great factory overseer. We bob along the line like tin cans on a belt, some of us dropping off unexpectedly along the way, most of us journeying to the end of the line to be packaged and transported to our destination.

We set such store upon the journey along the line. Maybe the tin cans do too, thinking that is all there is, just conveyor-belt time. Endless lines of cans going nowhere. Nothing beyond the end of the journey.

But what if God sees it as just that – a journey.? Towards our destination. What if he sees all the conveyor belts, all the tin cans, all the packaged product ready to be shipped? And  makes sure that the belts are never empty, replenishing them whenever one tin can drops off or reaches the end?

We marvel at how often in a family a death will be followed by a birth. Sometimes, it is the other way round, as when I had my first baby and my mother died ten days later. No wonder there are so many superstitions in maternity wards. I remember a nurse snatching the bunch of red and white roses off the bed when my mother came to visit me after the birth. Red and white together in a hospital mean death, the nurse explained to me later. How right she was.

Mystery and superstition? Or God’s plan for the world: a world of doors and windows, openings and closings, births and deaths?