I ran to get the fire extinguisher just as the apartment manager made his way to the door of the smoking apartment, the one right next door to ours.
He unlocked the deadbolt and was about to open the door when he said out loud, “You know, they always say to keep the doors closed. We’d better wait.” These words prevented a disaster.
My fears escalated in the minutes that followed, but the firetrucks (all five of them!) came in less than 10 minutes, and the place got crazy.
Four firefighters in full gear approached the door with extreme caution. Armed with hose, axes and heat-sensor equipment, they opened the door a crack and paused—a great cloud of thick black smoke came billowing out. The firefighter with the hose went in and began to spray, followed a few moments later by the other three. In 15 minutes it was all over. Our apartment, although smoky, was unscathed. To say that we are fortunate is an understatement. We are grateful beyond compare.
But here’s what we didn’t know:
It was over 1000 degrees (not hundred, but thousand) in our neighbor’s apartment, and if the manager would have opened the door, at that point the oxygen would have fueled the fire and created a fireball that would have engulfed the entire building.
So when is it not right to open inner doors?
For many years I practiced open-air ventilation, gladly fueling destructive flames of harsh judgement that I thought were my reality. The end result? I got burned out. That’s pretty much how I felt on the inside.
But then came the moment when I opened my heart to a teacher who had the tools, the experience and the wisdom to quench the destructive power and prevent further loss of friendship, happiness, and energy.
It is VITAL that you find a friend or a teacher who can help you through the process of opening the heart. Someone who can be slightly impersonal and isn’t afraid to offer advice, the type that might be difficult to take at first. Someone that can dispel the darkness of our smoke.
Sometimes we make the mistake of opening our hearts to friends and family who are keenly interested in fanning our smoldering fumes to see the destructive aftermath that typically follows. Life seems to be filled with this kind of entertainment.
The truth is, we don’t need more smoke. We don’t need our vision to become more clouded than it already is.
What we need is not fire, but light.
For light is what lies in the deepest recesses of our heart. There isn’t a person born who doesn’t have this reality at the core of their being. And fires of purification can burn away all that we are not, revealing the light that is our inherent truth.
I’d like to take my hat off to my neighbor, whose apartment and almost everything he owned has been destroyed. I saw him just this evening, and he is doing incredibly well. He is filled with gratitude, filled with grace, and most of all, filled with light that cannot be smothered.
Be safe, find your light….
And never open doors that are hot to the touch.