The word ‘threshold’ has come up for me again and again recently. Most obviously, as we end one year and begin another, but also as I witness friends navigate illness, cross-country moves and other struggles. It also holds meaning for me as I embark on a new chapter in my life. The metaphor is rich with mystery, yet one that is tangible and accessible. I love how John O’Donohue uses the word to describe moving between states of being and how he couples this motion with a sense of beauty. Below is a quotation from his interview with Krista Tippett.
Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming and when we cross a new threshold – that if we cross worthily – we heal patterns of repetition in us that had us caught somewhere. And in our crossing, we cross onto new ground. We don’t just repeat what we’ve been through in the last place we were. Beauty is an emerging fullness; a greater sense of grace and elegance; a deeper sense of depth; a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.
Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts is relatively new to me, however she has been instrumental in my unfolding spiritual journey this year. In her Give Me a Word e-course, she begins like this:
I offer the image of “threshold” as a potent one for this time of crossing into a New Year. I love doors and thresholds and what they represent. While I have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions, I do adore the promise and possibility this time of year offers to us. Doors, both open and closed, seem to shimmer with the invitation to approach.
Doors are places for pausing, of finding your key, of knocking, of asking for entry. Thresholds carry us from one place to another – usually from outside to inside or the other way around. They are symbols of our inner movements.
I believe that our lives are about crossing one threshold after another. Opening our hearts to the next invitation, even if it means stepping away from what is comfortable and familiar and toward what feels unknown.
I am trying to pause for a moment when a threshold presents itself and acknowledge the crossing. Sometimes there is shy hesitation. Sometimes there is bold fearlessness. Sometimes there is sheer and total awkwardness. But no matter how I cross, I believe with every ounce of my being, that the ground beneath my feet is holy and my steps are divinely guided. This is the simple faith that keeps me walking.