new Mennonite Life logo    December 2000     vol. 55 no. 4     Back to Table of Contents


Leonard Nolt

Doors and windows are powerful symbols, opening as they do into new vistas and new experiences. From a visual perspective, walls are formidable obstacles. But a door in the wall, even a closed door, is an invitation that offers countless possibilities. If the door opens, one can pass through and enter another room, maybe even another life or another world. New rooms can mean new perspectives, new information, perhaps even new relationships and new rules.

The words "door" and "window" are used metaphorically in the Bible to depict an entrance, an opportunity, or an opening. Jesus in John 10:9 said, "I am the door..." Acts 14:27 talks about "opening the door of faith..." In Genesis 7:11 when the flood rains begin to fall, "the windows of heaven were opened." As in Bible times, doors and windows still have strong symbolic value and meaning.

The thirteen photographs in this series are of openings; doors and windows, or the openings in walls where doors and windows used to be. They represent places where people live, or used to live; buildings and homes where people ate, slept, argued, loved, suffered, celebrated, were born and died. Although some are now abandoned and in derelict condition and no longer able to offer a promise of shelter and safety, they still retain some of the diginity and serenity found in many structures that have witnessed the passing of human occupation.

I took the photographs below in the city of San Cristobal de las Casas in the Mexican state of Chiapas in November 1999 while a member of a Christian Peacemaker Team delegation.

A special thanks to Nezih Durusu for his assistance with transmitting these photos.