A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience of a stage of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up. At this threshold, a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope.
The purpose of the journey is compassion. The return is seeing the radiance everywhere.
I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be… This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages… but that they are in me to be drawn on… Far too many people think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty- three-year-old means being grown up. When I’m with these people I feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up, then I don’t ever want to be one. Instead of which, if I can retain a child’s awareness and joy, and be fifty-one, then I will really learn what it means to be grown up.
~Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet
The truth is, indeed, that love is the threshold of another universe.
~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
There’s a trick to the Graceful Exit, I suspect. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship, is over and to let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance in our lives… It’s hard to learn that we don’t leave the best parts of ourselves behind, back in the dugout or the Capital or the office. We own what we learned back there, the experience and the growth are grafted onto our lives. And when we exit, we can take ourselves along.
Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
There is in Celtic mythology the notion of ‘thin places’ in the universe where the visible and the invisible world come into their closest proximity… Mountains and rivers are particularly favored as thin places marking invariably as they do, the horizontal and perpendicular frontiers. But perhaps the ultimate of these thin places in the human condition are the experiences people are likely to have as they encounter suffering, joy, and mystery.
Whatever your threshold event is, whether it’s developing a curative vaccine, entering into marriage, starting a new job, moving into a new home, becoming a parent, or becoming a UU minister, I hope you allow yourself the grace of a self-hug as well as the hugs of loved ones. May you be open to the grace that seeks to embrace us all on our journeys.
~Rev. Daniel Gregoire
(Curated and adapted for KUF from the 2020 Soul Matters materials for the theme ‘Thresholds’ by Rev. Beckett Coppola.)