Making the Most
of Our Thresholds
Standing at a threshold, which is a place of change, is a theme that repeats itself throughout our life. Thresholds can represent both large and small events, carrying a variety of emotions. It requires courage to step past the unsettledness of unanswered questions and venture into the unknown. It’s easier to stay in the familiar and comfortable than risk the discomfort of not knowing what comes next. Thresholds invite us to review our choices, and discover new opportunities. They are game-changers that offer an invitation to become increasingly true to ourself.
This invitation includes stopping to rest and consider before making the next step. Taking time to listen to our guiding inner voice enhances our decision making and leads us to our very essence. Here is how John O’Donohue expresses this, “The word threshold was related to the word thresh, which was the separation of the grain from the husk or straw when oats were flailed. It also includes the notions of entrance, crossing, border, and beginning. To cross a threshold is to leave behind the husk and arrive at the grain.” This is a call for us to welcome our own inner richness and embrace new opportunities.
Sometimes we can find ourself crossing a threshold we had never anticipated that feels like a sudden unchosen fork in the road. COVID certainly did that to all of us. We can ask ourself, what are we going to do with that threshold? How will we live differently after this experience? Kristin Armstrong writes, “Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” Thresholds are an invitation to change what needs changing.
Thresholds happen when we lose our job, an accident brings grief or we receive a health diagnosis we never expected to have. If we’re considering a treatment plan or surgery, let’s not let anyone push us into a decision we aren’t ready to make. Years ago, I went to the hospital to have surgery and one of the papers I was asked to sign took me by surprise. It allowed the surgeon to do more than our original agreement. I decided I was not going to wake up with parts of my body missing that I had not had a chance to process. I refused to sign the papers and the surgery was done as originally planned. That action took care of the problem. Thresholds can help us find our voice so we speak up in new ways.
There are also thresholds of celebration such as weddings, a baby’s arrival, birthdays, job promotions, graduations and retirements. The beginning of each day is a threshold – what will we do with this precious gift? When we connect who we are with how we live, there are shifts inside us that change our perspective. Our resistance to change decreases and we step more fully into our life.
Marilyn Tan wrote an article giving some helpful suggestions in navigating the transition of thresholds. These can involve major life changes as well as subtle shifts in consciousness. She suggests we acknowledge something is ending instead of pretending nothing is changing. This helps us prepare for whatever is emerging. If we honor the transition, we can allow ourself to feel the emotions of uneasiness, sorrow or delight as we give ourself time to process change. There are always new insights into ourself and others when something is either ending or beginning. Seeking support is essential whether we’re celebrating or commiserating and strengthens our connections. When we let go of our fear and self-limiting beliefs, we can exercise the power of choice and embrace the new opportunities thresholds offer.
Giving complete attention to our guiding inner voice enables us to trust the process we’re in. John O’Donohue’s describes thresholds as, “voyages of discovery, creativity and compassion.” He also adds, “No threshold need be a threat, but rather an invitation and a promise. Whatever comes, the great sacrament of life will remain faithful to us, blessing us always with visible signs of invisible grace. We merely need to trust.”
Until Next Time – Sylvia