I know for a while again,
the health of self-forgetfulness,
looking out at the sky through
a notch in the valley side,
the black woods wintry on
the hills, small clouds at sunset
passing across. And I know
that this is one of the thresholds
between Earth and Heaven,
from which I may even step
forth from myself and be free.
~ Wendell Berry, Sabbaths 2000
John O’Donohue gave voice to the connection between beauty and those edges of life — thresholds was the word he loved—
where the fullness of reality becomes more stark and more clear.
If you go back to the etymology of the word “threshold,” it comes from “threshing,” which is to separate the grain from the husk. So the threshold, in a way, is a place where you move into more critical and challenging and worthy fullness.
There are huge thresholds in every life.
You know that, for instance, if you are in the middle of your life in a busy evening, fifty things to do and you get a phone call that somebody you love is suddenly dying, it takes ten seconds to communicate that information.
But when you put the phone down, you are already standing in a different world. Suddenly everything that seems so important before is all gone and now you are thinking of this. So the given world that we think is there and the solid ground we are on is so tentative.
And a threshold is a line which separates two territories of spirit, and very often how we cross is the key thing.
When we cross a new threshold worthily, what we do is we heal the patterns of repetition that were in us that had us caught somewhere.
~John O’Donohue from an “On Being” interview with Krista Tippett on “Becoming Wise”
A decade ago, someone I respected told me that my writing reflects a “sacramental” life — touching and tasting the holiness of everyday moments, as if they are the cup and bread that sustains me as God’s eternal grace and gift.
I allow that feedback to sit warmly beside me, like a welcome companion during the many hours I struggle with what to write here.
It is all too tempting to emphasize the sacrament over the sacrifice it represents. As much as I love the world and the beauty in the moments I share here, my search should be for the entrance to the “thin places” between heaven and earth, through forgetting self and stepping forth through a holy threshold into something far greater.
I feel so unworthy — in fact, threshed to pieces most days, incapable of thinking of anything but how I feel reduced to fragments. Perhaps those fragments can be like the droplets coming from a farm sprinkler at sunset, sparkling and golden despite waning light, bringing something essential to anyone feeling dry, parched and dusty.
I may even step
forth from myself and be free.
Only then we can walk each other home.
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