The Red Doors

The basement smelled funny and and the fluorescent lights made it brighter than it needed to be. The few of us were scattered all over the large, center room of the basement. We kept to ourselves and we drew our pictures and colored our papers on the long rectangle tables.

Mom was in a meeting upstairs. She gathered with others who tried to learn how to live with someone who drank too much. Maybe they thought we were too young to learn how to do that, so my sister and I colored at the tables in the basement of the old rock church with the red doors. The ladies in the basement were kind and watched over us.

When Mom was finished with her meeting, we took our drawings and went home and lived with someone who drank too much.

I liked the old rock church, especially the red doors. I only recently learned what the red doors of the church symbolize. There are several stories about them, but this is the one I heard first, like best, and means the most.

The tradition of the red doors began during the Middle Ages in England. They were a sign of sanctuary. The root word of sanctuary is the Latin word sanctus, meaning holy. In early cathedral architecture, red stood for the blood of Christ. The north, south, and east doors of the church were painted red, making the sign of the cross. A church with red doors was a holy place of refuge. A safe space.

A place where little girls drew stick figure families with over-sized heads and crooked smiles.

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