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The Open Window

Don’t let the title deceive or mislead you. Although there is a short story titled “The Open Window” by Saki, this post has nothing to do with that story or its author. But it does have to do with an open window.

Someone (I conducted a brief online search to discover who, but I found no definitive answer) once said, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”

The current (and ongoing for only God knows how much longer) public health crisis has closed not just one but many doors for a lot of people, and I haven’t been immune to that plight. For just a few examples,

  1. I speak monthly in the chapel program of a local private Christian school. Now all schools are closed, quite conceivably through the rest of the school year.

  2. I’m in the midst of conducting research on a major writing project. Now all the libraries, including the special archives I most need to use, are closed. With stay-at-home recommendations, I’m even reluctant to visit local cemeteries, where I might conduct at least a little of my research.

  3. I serve as a docent for the museum of a local historical society. Now the museum is closed indefinitely.

These are just three of the several doors that unavoidably have been closed for me. But, without my doing anything to cut a hole in the wall and install a window, one suddenly appeared via an e-mail. I examined it and, thinking that I saw through it a great opportunity, opened it and stuck my head out for a look to see if it did, indeed, hold promise. Literally within minutes of my doing so, I had my answer, an invitation to take on an important assignment!

I will be working on the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation’s Coolidge Digitization Project, editing and preparing for the public viewing some of that great president’s speeches. Calvin Coolidge has long been one of my favorite presidents for several reasons, not least of which is his conservative, common-sense approach to government and economics. My being quite the introvert makes me appreciate his reticence, too.

Perhaps you’ve heard the anecdote about two women who attended a function at the Coolidge White House during which one lady, upon entering, told the president that she had bet her companion that she could coax the famous “Silent Cal” into saying more than two words that evening. He smiled and then ignored her completely throughout the evening. As she was departing the room, Coolidge shook her hand, smiled warmly, and said, “You lose!”

I also like the embroidered saying that Coolidge allegedly kept over his mantlepiece:

A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw, the less he spoke; The less he spoke, the more he heard; Why can’t we be like that old bird?

I once wrote an article about “Silent Cal” for The Elks Magazine. I also wrote an article for Scouting magazine about the tragic loss of one of his sons while the Coolidges were living in the White House (see So Coolidge has a special place in my mind and heart.

The chairman of the board of the Coolidge Presidential Foundation is author and historian Amity Shlaes. I first became enamored of her writing when I read her book The Forgotten Man. That whetted my appetite, and I was thrilled when she published the biography Coolidge.

And now I have the privilege and honor of working with the Coolidge Foundation to make his speeches accessible to readers almost a hundred years after he spoke the words as president. Several doors closed, but God opened this window. Who knows what I’ll see or discover while sticking my neck out that window? Maybe I’ll even get an opportunity to meet Amity Schlaes!

So what doors has the current situation closed to you? Have you found your open window yet?

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