Hell in the Hallway, Light at the Door
How to Move Gracefully Through Change into Renewed and Abundant Life by Ellen Debenport
Review by By Pat Weeks
A beloved friend of mine, who is going through some major life transitions, told me of this book. She said it had been so helpful to her as she struggled to emerge from her own hallway.
Ms. Debonport gives a quote from a workshop her mother attended; “When one door closes, another one opens, but it can be hell in the hallway.” The author talks about the hallways of our life as representing a major change we are experiencing. She explains that this is not a change that has to be endured, but it can be a place of recovery and reflection, of growth and understanding of human love, and a deeper connection with Spirit. An understanding of the hallway has three parts: what put you there, what you do while you’re there, and how you manage to leave it.
Whether the door that closed to you involves death, divorce, job loss, illness, or some other major change, you are in a hallway. She says, “Some might argue that grieving a death is different from, say, bankruptcy. Or ending a relationship is different from losing a job.” She states that the details may be different, but the spiritual challenge is the same whenever you go through a major change. Our work in the hallway is to accept what has happened, accept the gifts that are offered in this “strange and unexpected package” and to design the next phase of our lives.
She gives many concrete examples of people’s stories when they talk honestly of their experiences in the hallway. They candidly describe the sometimes-searing pain they have experienced and the redemption they found in summoning up the courage to open a new door. They learn the value of first acknowledging their true feelings and how to sit with discomfort—to not turn away from the fire of grief.
A moving passage in the book says:
Even if you feel as if no one can possibly understand what you are going through, you are surrounded by the spirits of all those who have endured unspeakable pain, and you are uplifted by their love. You are a child of God who is loved beyond measure, yes, even in this.
It won’t always hurt this much.
The book is designed to help people through the times when they don’t want to get out of bed, or days when they can’t stop crying, or days when they feel as if they will start to cry, they might never stop. And days when they can’t imagine ever feeling good again. Ms. Debonport says she calls those days hell, and she wrote the book as guidance through the hallway door to the other side.
Ms. Debonport is a skilled writer (she formerly was a journalist for 22 years), and she offers her wisdom and in-depth compassion and guidance in forthright prose. Her spiritual insights are extremely helpful, and she ends each chapter with “Bits of Wisdom” followed by “This Prayer Is For You.”
I highly recommend this book for anyone who finds themselves in a hallway—no matter if the hallway is a devastating event or a mild decision that needs to be made. It is a valuable source of practical advice. The author contends that every challenge in life is spiritual, whatever the circumstances. She will walk with you through the dark until you can see light at the door.