Marvin Repinski: Risk: Just opening a door is enough

Published 4:48 pm Friday, September 2, 2022

Writing on this topic, I feel like a small man addressing a large world. Am I like the person who trips on his loose shoelaces and yet gets up, ties up the laces, and continues on his journey?

I estimate that my wife, Becky, and I read at least four hours a day — various materials. This includes the Minneapolis “StarTribune” and the “Austin Herald.” My take on our local paper is that with limited resources, it gives a fair reportage of area events and personal accomplishments. The title of this essay has five examples:

Opening doors is an idea from a paragraph in the novel by the Russian author Dostoevsky in his book “Crime and Punishment.” “After a short interval, the door opened the merest crack, and a woman peered suspiciously out at her visitor; only her glittering little eyes were visible in the gloom. When she opened the door wider, the young man stepped across the threshold into a dark hall divided by a partition from the tiny kitchen. The old woman stood silently before him, looking at him with a question in her eyes. She was a tiny dried-up scrap of a creature, about sixty years old, with sharp, malicious little eyes and a small sharp nose. She was bare-headed and her fair hair, just beginning to go gray, was thick with grease. A strip of flannel was twisted round her long thin neck, which was wrinkled and yellow like a hen’s legs, and in spite of the heat, a short jacket of worn fur, yellow with age, hung from her shoulders. She coughed and groaned continually.” The apprehension, even fear of the woman in the apartment, is alleviated by action. Is it a reminder to us; despite misgivings, we will respond to a knock on the door?

Moving to a new experience is often a challenge, a risk. The author, Sue Bender, says, “heeding a persistent inner voice,” she searched for, was received, and lived with an Amish family in Pennsylvania. Of Bender’s book, “Plain and Simple,” May Sarton has written, “how rarely does a potent dream come true and how evermore rarely can the experience be communicated.” Ms. Bender moved from apprehension to a full-course meal — of many courses — to an informed enjoyment of life with the Amish. This somewhat, for most of us, different style of religion is rich in diversity. “I felt self-conscious. I didn’t belong” was the original feeling that changed to “complete acceptance.”

Saying “yes” to a future. Not everyone these days is attending public religious services, but we may note that at the various county fairs (Mower being one of them), and the MN State Fair, as reported in the media, great numbers of attendees made their way to various religious gatherings. A sign that “not all is lost?” My stubborn belief is that people will always seek the roots and future of their lives. And seeking those meanings will often be a conviction that a God of some name, is wisely to be sought.

Leaving Ace Hardware after buying bird seed recently, I noticed a full-sized bus in the parking lot, and stepping out of it were youth carrying backpacks on their way to the Cornerstone Church. This Assemblies of God Church has developed programs for children and youth and is taking the risk that a stable faith can be taught and maintained. Troubled times call for institutions. Many in the Austin area believe in taking the risk on our youth. The crime rate among people 15 to 28 is immense across the nation. Please support the groups that say, “this is not a time to slack off, but to invite conversation and provisions for our youth.”

The new Youth for Christ effort, in a building across the street from the Austin High School, is saying, “the risk is for service, not nonsense and destruction!” It’s why I can have a sense of satisfaction that in one of our Austin churches a couple with their two children give time and effort to the future. That includes Jason Baskin, a regular Sunday School teacher. I have memories of mine.

The practice of silence. The bet most people won’t take. “I bet you the new Mazda automobile you will not take one hour a day for one week to slow down. Sitting in silence with another person, I acknowledge the process of communicating! “To be alone with myself,” says a friend, “I appreciate my own conversation!” Silence is only broken by the inner strength that breaks into my body. The wise grandfather said, “Don’t just do something, sit there.” One asked, “Why do you pray? Isn’t that dead-end stuff?” “No!” “Aren’t you just throwing words to the wind when you meditate in silence? Isn’t that a risk of looking stupid?” “No. I may be just silently talking to myself, and that’s OK.” When alone with myself you ask me, isn’t that self-abuse? Most people, I assume, practice some form of private time, when isolated from others; that is satisfying.

The risk of actually practicing stillness or silence, may be a kind of rebirth. You can look it up in the New Testament. (I forget the book, chapter, and verse —- you can find it.) I think it reads, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”