Sherlock Holmes has been on my mind of late. (Hence the title.) Having recently finished The Great Detective, a fun read on everything Holmesian, I have been thinking often about mysteries. And curiosity. And the noticing of details.
But as I made my way to find a bench on Raspberry Island, in the middle of the Mississippi River with a view of St. Paul, I didn’t expect to find anything curious or mysterious, just perhaps something I could sketch out.
It was a sunny day, with a stiff breeze as I started across the bridge toward the island. Flags were snapping above me.
There’s not much on the island except some trails and a bandshell. But, thankfully, there was a bench with a great view of the city skyline.
As skylines go St. Paul’s is not spectacular. But the cliff on which it’s perched is rather unique.
And as I sat and took in the view, I noticed a singular detail (a nod to you, Arthur Conan!): a square doorway, cut into the rock face at a fairly inaccessible height. It begged questions: Why was it there? Did it open into a cave? What could be inside? Ever since my childhood, dark doorways have been like magnets to my imagination.
Dark doorways: an apt analogy for unresolved situations in life. We peer into them, hoping to get a glimpse what lies ahead, drawn by curiosity, held back by a vague sense of dread. There could be treasure waiting. Or a bear. Over this past weekend, I was re-reading one of my journals, wishing I could reach back and tell the me of twenty years ago what those dark doorways of the time led to.
Incredibly, as if on cue, a young man appeared at the top of the bluff and tossed over a rope. To my astonishment, he descended toward the hole, apparently as curious as I was.
Seriously, what are the chances I’d be here at this moment?
When he got to the doorway, he peered in for a moment then began his climb back up. The cave must have been disappointing. The only mystery that remained was whether his pants would make it to the top with him.
You know, maybe it’s one of God’s mercies that we can’t get a good look into our dark doorways, that we can't have a Sherlock surety about what lies ahead. That me of two decades ago needed the ongoing unveiling in order to become the me of today.
The mystery is what makes the unfolding narrative interesting.