The Threshold: Internal Passages

We often think of “threshold” as that divide between outside and going inside a building. In fact, every building that has more than one room has internal thresholds, too.  Every room has at least one internal passage where one crosses over from one space to another. This is a useful metaphor for how we as human beings move through our lives, moment by moment.  We move with physical actions of the body, to be sure.  Perhaps even more worth observing, we cross over many thresholds moment by moment through the mental, emotional and spiritual movements that we engage within.

Consider how each of the senses becomes a threshold within for us: something I hear; something I taste; something I smell; something I touch; something I see.  Each becomes an internal threshold for me to process where I notice changes taking place in me through these perceptions.  With some practice, I can decide if I want to allow certain sensory perceptions because I know where they will take me.  I am currently becoming more aware what watching violent movies and television does to me.  They take me places within myself that may sometimes be necessary (I will keep up with the nightly news) but which I don’t need to indulge (how many violent movies do I need to watch?).

Consider how a memory, triggered by any of the senses, becomes a threshold within. Those same five senses may trigger a long forgotten memory.  The memory itself and the feelings that come with it is another internal threshold.  When the memory beckons us to go there, usually there is something on the other side of that memory waiting to guide us, help us along the way of our life’s path. Often, though, we perceive that memory and its threshold with fear:  that was so long ago.  I don’t know whether I want to go there again. Remember Rumi’s gentle breezes.  Remember something strange crossing the threshold. Remember the power of acceptance and letting go, of forgiveness, and dare to cross memory’s threshold

Consider those, perhaps rarer, moments when an insight that we weren’t even aware we were waiting on suddenly dawns within.  Is this not an internal threshold, the kind that Rumi does not want us to go back to sleep from, the kind of breeze that Mary Oliver calls the movement of the soul?  Can we let the unusual and different be what challenges us, as Karen pointed out?  Can we even dare to see our own individual lives as a kind of house of hope filled with internal thresholds, waiting for us to explore, to cross and through which to grow?

Bob Patrick

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