If there was one person I wanted to be when I was growing up, it was Liesl from The Sound of Music. I couldn’t wait to be 16 going on 17. Like Liesl, I would have a ridiculously tiny waist, wear a flouncy dress and skip elegantly across benches in a dreamy gazebo. The post boy love interest was optional. I could probably do better than that not-so-good-looking sneak.
More than 20 years have passed since I turned 16 and, well . . . that didn’t happen.
No post boys beckoned me to come out of my room and dance in a thunderstorm. Had I attempted to fly across benches in a gazebo, I would, in all likelihood, have landed on the floor with a cartoon-like SPLAT! As for waist sizes, the less said the better.
Despite my dreams left languishing by the wayside, my loyalty to the movie has not waned.
I’m not talking about a casual “I know the words of Doe, a Deer” interest in the movie. Give me a whistle and I can effortlessly crank out Captain von Trapp’s marchpast repertoire. Forget the screenplay, I even know when the actors pause for breath. That VHS tape from my childhood had been rewound an obsessive number of times.
When my husband and I visited Austria a month or so ago, there was simply no hesitation (at least on my part) – we were going to Salzburg and, come snow or hail, we were getting on the Sound of Music bus tour.
We (Read: I. The husband’s participation was somewhat lukewarm) sang along to the soundtrack with 70 others, as we whizzed through the Austrian countryside. We gawked at the baroque church where Maria and the Captain got married. We shared an apple strudel – the crisp kind that Maria considers worthy of her list of her “favorite things.” And, yes, I took a picture by the gazebo where Liesl tells Rolf she needed someone older and wiser telling her what to do. (A 17-year-old telegraph boy with misguided loyalties to the Nazis would fit the bill perfectly.)
I’m not one to let 21st Century Fox determine my theology, but there’s one line from the movie that has stayed with me through the years. As a despondent Maria leaves the abbey to step into an unknown world as a governess to seven children, she pauses (one of those cinemagraphically-rich Hollywood pauses) and says quietly,
“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”
Maybe in the last year, you’ve met with a series of closed doors, some of which have been slammed in your face. Maybe it’s a job that you’d pinned your hopes on. Maybe it’s a missed opportunity or dead dreams or a relationship broken beyond repair.
But as the new year unveils, brimming over with fresh opportunities, let’s remind ourselves that our loving God doesn’t close doors indeterminately. He doesn’t let winds of chance slam doors shut. Nor does He lack the strength to pry doors open. Certain doors are meant to stay closed - till He opens something better. Like the Garth Brooks song goes, “Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
The Sound of Music is based on the real life of Maria Augusta Kutschera, orphaned as a young girl and raised by an abusive relative. Talk about a closed door! But God cracks open the window of the Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg. Just when her life is getting pieced back together, Maria is told to leave the abbey to become a teacher at the von Trapp household. Again, a resounding click of the door of her dreams shutting. But then the window of her world opens wide with love and family! The roadblocks still don't stop coming. The real-life von Trapps took to singing as a career because they lost most of their wealth when their bank collapsed. They had to flee their home in Austria during the Nazi occupation. But they made a life for themselves in America. Maria wrote a book which years later was turned into the highest grossing musical of all time and an inspiration to thousands of people, the world over. Maria’s life was a series of closed doors. But also a series of open windows.
Looking back, I’d like to tell my 16-year-old self, who was unlike Liesl in every possible way, that closed doors are simply opportunities to trust God for open windows. Sometimes, open doors are gusts of wind that may knock you off your feet. Maybe the gentle breeze that wafts through open windows is what you need right now. God knows what He’s doing.
Also, stay warm - dancing in the rain is squelchy, messy and highly overrated!
Photo Credit: Unsplash