Another Shut Door

S M Chen
5 min readJan 7, 2024

We had planned a get together for some time.

A Norwegian friend L from my past — someone I’d known since college days, which goes back decades — expressed interest in meeting the Ukrainian couple I have been sponsoring since September 2023 (about 3.5 months).

L has a platonic female friend, also L, a woman close to 40, active in Norwegian events. She happens to be devout.

She also expressed a desire to meet the Ukrainians.

I agreed to bring them to the Protestant church about an hour north of where I live with my refugee guests.

I set the GPS on my cellphone and got behind the wheel.

The GPS is a marvelous invention.

Only occasionally leading me astray, I have relied on it to get to places with which I am unfamiliar or inadequately acquainted.

About an hour later we reached the church.

This particular church has some interesting history.

Close to the waterfront of a major port, Norwegian women would welcome their men home from sea.

Husbands, sons, boyfriends.

Men who had been at sea and were happy to be home again for a time on terra firma.

What better place to commemorate their return than a church?

It was almost akin to a synagogue being erected at the spot of the Prodigal Son’s return.

Please bear in mind I am not singling out this church. There are probable thousands, like it scattered around the globe.

I mention it because I think it illustrative of a problem.

Over the years the church flourished.

People came and went but the church remained, a testament to the staying power of the family and communal bond.

A bulwark against all things inimical to that bond.

We pulled up outside the building, parked, and tried to peer inside through the small windows in the foyer.

I tried the large front doors.

Not only were they shut, they were locked.

There was no sign indicated how one was to get in.

I called my Norwegian buddy.

He picked up immediately.

I thought he was inside the church.