I

’ve been thinking a lot about locked doors since Friday.

The power behind the idea of them, the sense of security it has always afforded me to throw a lock into place and think, ‘Well, that’s that.’ I’ve had some extra time over the last couple of days to reflect on my own relationship to locked doors, you see, ever since Scott handed down an edict prohibiting my reading any more of the coverage of the horror visited upon the families of Newtown, Connecticut.

When I was growing up, my near-religious commitment to door-locking was a joke in our house. Walk outside to get the mail if you must, but be warned: Wendy may well lock the door behind you. It was funny because it was true. Turn your back on me for five seconds, leave the confines of the kitchen to get something from the garage and, boom, baby: locked out.

There was a reason I locked all of those doors—and still do. It is distinctly unfunny, though, a horror story all its own that happened close enough to my own young life to make me flinch, and to make me entirely serious about locking doors.

That was a long time ago now and I can tell you that my own children have attended minimum security institutions for the entirety of their brief collective academic careers: preschools, elementary and middle schools without gates, no closed circuit video monitoring, no one paid to sit at a desk to buzz people through.

Maybe that sounds like dissonance coming from the door-locker I was, but here’s what I’ve come to understand as I left behind the Little Wendy That Was: these locked doors, with their buzzers and their video cameras and their intercoms, can be breached. Of course they can. And what we are trying to lock outside isn’t a monster or Something Other that we can see coming and say, ‘Lock the door because it’s coming!’ That lock’s not doing a damn thing because our problems aren’t out there. They’re already inside. With us.

Are us.

In the pews of our church this morning, 2,000 miles away from Connecticut, our freshman priest reminded his wobbly, weepy flock of ‘the work of love to be done in our daily lives.’ I thought about the monsters already in our midst, beasts born of political neglect and human failure, and all the work that love has to do. Love’s got its hands full, I thought.

Then we were in the car, about to leave the church parking lot, and I remembered something I needed to do inside. I sprinted to one door and then another. Both were locked. A parishioner who saw me at the second entrance let me in, but not before informing me that both of the entrances were always locked at the start of the third service.

For all the good it will do, I thought, over and over and over again, all the way home.