Entering the Blue Door

Nov 30, 2023 by Cheryle Anne Miller



Lucas Barnes was a very successful nuclear engineer who worked in downtown Nashville.  Lucas was a workaholic.  He defined his whole life around his career despite the fact that he was married and had two wonderful children.

It was the day for his daughter, Christine’s ballet recital.  She had a lead role.  “Daddy don’t forget, my recital starts at 2pm.”  “It’s on my calendar, stated Lucas.  As the day progressed, and the time was growing near for him to leave for his daughter’s recital, his boss entered the office with an emergency meeting.  Hours went by as Lucas was trying to put out the flames of this emergency.  When everything calmed down, suddenly he remembered the recital and ran out the door.  When he arrived, the parking lot was empty. 

This wasn’t the first time that Lucas promised to be home for family events.  Even Christmas and Easter, he always managed to have to go to the office for something.

This continued for years, having an absentee husband and father was just so hard on the family.  Lucas wife filed for divorce hoping that would spur a change in him, but to her dismay, he agreed and soon they separated.

With his family out of the picture, Lucas dove into his job with a vengeance even staying over on the couch in his office.  He continued to move up in the company and in the process, his heart became colder and colder.  He stopped believing in God, believing in love.  He hardly ever spoke to his children.  They were all grown up with families of their own.

One day, Lucas didn’t feel well.  He had this gnawing pain in his side but there was no time to go to the doctor, his job was too important.  He began to receive more symptoms.  He was so tired and could hardly drag himself out of bed.  What is wrong with me?  He thought.

Finally, he called a doctor friend and asked him what it could be.  He told him that he might need to get a check up.  Lucas finally relented and saw a doctor.

“Mr. Barnes,” said the doctor, “you have liver cancer and we need to run more tests but it looks like it has progressed to the fourth stage.”  “WHAT” said Lucas.  Suddenly, his whole life flashed before his eyes in an instant. 

He had nowhere to turn.  He called his ex-wife and she tried to comfort him but she had a new husband now and couldn’t take care of him.  His children were all grown and moved out of state with their own families and besides they hardly knew him.  While they were upset, but nobody offered to help him. 

Because of his mounting medical bills and nobody to help, he soon lost everything.

He was in the hospital with white sterile walls and nurses who had 30 people to take care of.  He longed to talk to someone.  Everyone he called was too busy.  What he did have time for was to think.  He mulled over his life and suddenly a wave of remorse came over him like a torrent.

What have I done?  I have lost my wife and my children for my job.  I am dying and there is nobody here to even talk to me.  Nobody cares about me.  I am just a number.  I am being treated like I treated everyone that loved me.  If I could only make amends for what I have done.  The hospital is going to kick me out.  Where can I go?  For the first time in many years, Lucas yelled out a gut wrenching, “GOD PLEASE HELP ME”.  He long ago gave up the thought that God even existed but, yet, at this moment, he realized his error.

Suddenly, the door to his room swung open, “We found a place for you” said the nurse.  It’s called “Heart of Mary House”.  Lucas had been raised Catholic but he soon fell away after college.  We will release you tomorrow.  Lucas didn’t know how to respond.

The next morning came and Lucas was in and out of pain all night long.  He was deeply medicated and didn’t even realize that he was in the ambulance when he woke up.  “Where am I?”, he asked.  We are on our way to Heart of Mary and he dozed off again.

When the ambulance doors opened, Lucas was awake.  He looked around as he was being wheeled out of the ambulance.  “Where is this place?”  He thought.

As he was wheeled through the blue door a feeling of love permeated Lucas as there were three people there to greet him with smiling faces.  Who are these people?  He thought to himself.  “Are you nurses?”, he asked.  They answered, “No, we are just volunteers here to help you and show you love.”

Tears streamed down Lucas’ face.  He had not felt love in a very long time.  He closed his heart after his wife left him.  He buried himself in work but now he had to face the emptiness he felt inside.  He could not hide from it any longer. 

As Lucas was settled in, many people came in and out talking to him, making him laugh, praying with him.  He was a new person.  He never felt happier.  He finally understood what he lacked in his life, what he never gave his family.

He asked his ex-wife and children to be contacted.  He wanted to see them to say that he was sorry for all the wasted time and how he didn’t put them first.

His family was contacted and although they were hesitant, they were reassured by the director that he really was sincere.

The day came when they all arrived at Heart of Mary house and as they entered the house, all the pictures of Mary and Jesus spoke to their hearts and brought back memories of their childhood. 

As his ex-wife and children entered the room, they all burst out into tears to see how sick their loved one was.  Suddenly, the protected shield around their hearts was shattered and they just held onto Lucas’ hand.  Lucas asked for forgiveness and they asked him for the same.  The love emanating from the room filled the whole house with sweet aroma.

Lucas family became a permanent fixture at the house for the short time that he was there.  With every passing day, they seemed to connect together in the most joyous ways.  They prayed with the volunteers the familiar rosary they were raised with but fell away from for years.  They took turns reading the bible to Lucas.  They even went to confession and mass together at the adjoining St. Edward Church.  Lucas went to confession and received all of the sacraments of the sick. 

Instead of sadness, there was joy.  A joy beyond understanding.  A joy that only God can give.

It was the moment when Lucas started to transition, meaning his time on this earth was about to end.  The room was filled with his family and volunteers on their knees praying the rosary and many other beautiful prayers for the dying when Lucas took his last breath.  Lucas was ready to meet his Maker. 

In those few weeks, God took a man who didn’t know how to love down a journey of love that forever changed him and his family’s lives.  His family are now permanent fixtures in the church.

It was not through his occupation and the money that he made that gave them joy, it was the love he showed, in the midst of suffering.  The love that surpasses all understanding.  The love that entices the volunteers to keep giving their time.  It’s the love of a Father who sent his only son to suffer and die for our sins.