Reflections From The Clergy | Thresholds in our lives

Rev. Dave Clements


When encountering thresholds, we often talk as if our work is that of successfully “passing through” them. We speak of “making healthy transitions.” We seek out advice and support as we decide which thresholds to lean into and which to resist. The goal, it would seem, is figuring out how to travel forward in the right way.

But what if the true invitation of a threshold is not to successfully move from here to there, but instead to just sit and pause? What if we saw thresholds as resting places rather than as those moving walkways that transport us through airports? What if thresholds help us “become” by asking us to just “be” for a while? No moving. Just noticing and naming. Less traveling and more listening.

A few weeks ago, I was in a conversation with a colleague of mine and I asked her about the word threshold, and she said, “What if we looked at threshold as a space to imagine. New way, and new self. Not moving or pushing but sitting and cultivating –– the goal being to allow ourselves space and time to reflect on our past, present and future. To imagine a new beginning …”

And that imagining and naming may be more powerful than we usually assume. From the outside, it may seem that nothing has changed in our lives, and yet once that imaging takes shape in our minds and hearts, nothing is ever the same. The idea, the dream, the recognition suddenly takes on gravity. And that gravity creates an inevitability that transforms us, sometimes whether we like it or not.

The writer Gary Zukav, an American spiritual teacher and the author of four consecutive New York Times Best Sellers, puts it, “At that moment of realization, a threshold is crossed. What seemed unthinkable becomes thinkable . . . . Once that realization has emerged, you can either honor it or ignore it, but you cannot forget it. What has become known cannot become unknown again.”

So, maybe the question we need to be asking isn’t “Are you ready to change?” but “How have you already changed?” How have you already passed through? How is your “threshold work” the work of noticing a shift inside you that has already occurred?

These are indeed challenging times and yet for me and hopefully for many of you these past weeks have been times of reflection and a change has occurred inside of you. I think of the storm that is happening in the world today with this virus and I wonder how we all are weathering the storm. I came across this reading on Facebook the other day and the author is unknown but hopefully it will provide you with something to ponder:

We are all in the same boat, we are not all in the same storm. For some people it’s sprinkling. This is a break. It’s a breather. It’s a pause in the normal, it’s time to reconnect with family and slow down. Honestly, it’s kind of peaceful.

For some it’s a storm. It’s a bit scary. It’s disruptive. It’s enough to make you stay up and watch the news and worry. For some it’s a hurricane. It’s tearing at the boards and pulling off the roof. It’s washing them out to sea. It’s dark and unknown. It’s life changing.

It’s not wrong to be enjoying the sprinkles or enduring the storm, but please don’t negate the difference. Rest with family, but don’t minimize the hurricane engulfing your neighbor. Laugh at a meme but get on your knees for a friend. Get in someone else’s storm.

May this time of living be a threshold in your life and in your reflecting may you reach out to those who are in the storm of their lives.

The Rev. Dave Clements is senior interim minister at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Peoria.

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