There is a beautiful gesture in some faiths. Before entering the inner sanctuary of a temple or shrine, a believer kneels, bows, and kisses the threshold.
I have done this myself, in certain holy spots.
In its simple rhythm, this act holds many lessons: lowering oneself to the ground, putting one’s forehead or lips to the boundary between inner and outer worlds.
Think of the times in life that denote passage: between birthdays, geographies, jobs, or relationships. How often do we leap blindly over the threshold without stopping to honor the transition itself? How can we, in our own way, pause and make an offering?
We tend to view transition as fleeting. It is hardly a moment at all. Rather, it is the space between moments. It is the space between births. This ephemerality makes the act of holding transition difficult, if not impossible.
But I’m learning that time and space exist in relationship with us, the conscious dweller. If we chose to expand or slow down the act of transition, we can. All we require are intention and attention. We must intentionally decide to mark the passage in some way. And we must attend to our feelings, thoughts, and bodies as we stand on the cusp of change.
(Note: There are, of course, life events that thrust us into change without our permission. I’m addressing those transitions over which we have some modicum of pre-knowledge and even the illusions of control.)
Thresholds are a wonderful hybrid of time, space, and ground. They are chimeras: dimensions rich in mixture and imagination. We experience transitions as a passage of time, and as such, they take up room in our lives and geographies. But, like the sill of a door we step across, thresholds are also anchored in the ground of our being. We cannot move into a new reality without touching this ground, and feeling supported by it.
So what can we offer this shimmering spot?
Like all wild things, if you stand very, very still, you are more likely to catch a glimpse of your elusive transition. Stillness itself is one offering we can make to our thresholds. The other day, a friend reminded me of Psalm 46:
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
With all the anxiety and stress that attend big changes, stillness has the effect of pulling in a lungful of pure mountain air. We are lightened, and at the same time, energized.
Another offering is sincerity.
The word ‘sincere’ comes from Latin roots meaning ‘of one growth,’ or ‘not hybrid, unmixed.’ The threshold is already a place of mixing and hybridity. We’re between worlds, between selves.
We can endure such flux better if we approach it with a united front. Our minds, souls, and bodies need to be in contact with each other, and hopefully in alignment. Otherwise, we risk feeling pulled in too many directions once the transition begins. And that will just leave us feeling drained, exhausted, and second-guessing our decision to make a change in the first place.
A third offering may be something physical – a goodbye kiss, a trip to Goodwill with old clothes, a letter to our past or future self. By giving concrete form to intangible transitions, these physical acts remind us to be both practical and present going forward.
There are many other ways you can honor your thresholds. Stillness, sincerity, and gifts of the spirit are just a few suggestions. But whatever your preferred rites of passage are, I encourage you to pause, consciously, on the brink of change. In this way, you can stretch time and space, and touch the ground before moving on.