Tuesday, January 13, 2015

More on Thresholds

"A threshold is a place where you move into more critical and challenging and worthy fullness."
 John O'Donohue

This whole idea of thresholds has me thinking and that has me almost quivering inside to write. I'm a little embarrassed to say that. Writing? Quivering? Seriously? I've been reading some new blogs lately and one of the authors, who I can't remember at this moment, spoke of the very same thing - about being excited about writing again.

I suspect most artists get the same way. Writers, painters, musicians. There's the every day kind of creating. There's also the kind of creating that happens when you see a blank piece of paper, a sterile canvas, or sheets of music without notes. The same blankness you have faced many times before, yet the stars have aligned just so, and your creative fire is re-kindled by the Divine Muse and you know, in your knowing place, that this open invitation is for you alone, that you are being called to stretch your creative muscles.  Admittedly, this does not happen to me very often. I'm learning to pay attention to a certain tickle that happens when I go into a fabric store,  Reddi Arts (the local art supply store), or  my writing group. I think it is being aware of all that possibility that gets my juices flowing

I began the new year by literally wiping away the old to make clean the path for something new.  I swept away old wasp nests, dust, dirt and dried leaves from my front stoop. I remember a friend saying how much she liked to sweep her driveway. I didn't go that crazy, but the broom and the sweeping motion felt healing in a way I hadn't expected. Painting the door was, to me, an obvious next step.

I've talked about a turquoise door for a long time. Even though Sweetie's fall back position is "works for me," I could tell turquoise might not be the first color he'd choose.  I kept a color swatch of "tropical oasis" on my refrigerator for months. For no reason that I can think of other than Divine GPS, Johnson went out and bought a quart which then sat in his storage locker (the stairwell leading to his man cave) for a few more months. Waiting.

When you live in Florida, it's not uncommon to buy things you don't use every day and squirrel them away for a rainy day. Or in the case of hurricane season, rainy days. You never know when a storm may come blowing through town and knock down trees and electrical lines. After a few days of living in hot, humid conditions and reading by candlelight, and all the snacks are gone because you never figured the storm would last that long so you ate them first,  you think you're going to starve to death. So you rummage through the pantry until you spy a can of white meat chicken that was never opened because your dad preferred dark meat. It is hidden behind some okra (okra? who bought okra?) and sardines. About the time you manage to open the can with a hammer and screwdriver, the electricity comes on. You make a mental note to restock the pantry.  You could use the same scenario about the things stacked on Johnson's stairs.

Okay, so paint and canned chicken are not exactly the best comparison. The point is that can of Tropical Oasis was there when my hungry soul cried out for nourishment. I'm learning that the nurturing of my soul is as much a threshold as the turquoise door.

"A threshold is a place where you move into more critical and challenging and worthy fullness."
 John O'Donohue

A few years before my father died, he decided to have the house painted. Even though he had promised  to leave the house to me after he died, while he was alive every inch of it belonged to him. Sweetie and I lived here, called it home on occasion, but there was never one minute when we didn't know it was Dad's house. Dad granted us permission to sit in on discussions that concerned the house, but did not require or pay attention to our opinions.  This was painfully pointed out when we sat down with Sweetie's son and daughter-n-law who were offering a bid to do the paint job. The conversation was all business with a false facade of friendliness.

Surrounded by a plethora of paint store brochures and color chips, I wondered aloud if we could consider a new color scheme. A nice blue, maybe. Dad had no intention of changing the paint color. I knew that.  I also knew, but let my guard down,  that even though he was 90 years old, walked with a cane, and drove his scooter into the walls, his mind and tongue were quick and sharp as any rattlesnake you'd ever come across. With no regard to others in the room, his icy blue eyes glared at me as he spit out the words, "over my dead body." Just like that any semblance of adulthood left me, along with any words I might have uttered. Dad's been gone almost 4 years. Yeh, it still hurts.

So I've got all these thoughts about thresholds swirling around in my head at the same time I'm trying to deflect the knowledge that the anniversary of my father's death is approaching. The deep, searing pain of loss has softened. I feel on the threshold of a new kind of grief - more longing than sadness.

Over the weekend I listened to an OnBeing interview that Krista Tippet had with Irish poet and philosopher, John O'Donohue. My ears picked up when half-way through I heard this:
"A threshold between the given world that we think is there and the solid ground we're on is so tentative. A threshold is a line which separates two territories of spirit and very often how we cross is the key thing. 
Beauty is a more rounded, substantial becoming. When we cross a new threshold if we cross worthily what we do is we heal the patterns of repetition in us that had us caught somewhere.  We cross onto new ground where we just don't repeat what we've been through in the last place we were. 
Beauty is an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth and also a kind of  homecoming for enriched memory of your unfolding life.

As I listened to O'Donohue's soothing Irish lilt, I came to the understanding that painting my door is about way more than just sprucing up the entrance to my home. Unbeknownst to me, before the sun set on the first day of 2015, I'd begun a journey back to me. Brushing on that first coat of Tropical Oasis may have started out as an unexpected act of delayed defiance. In truth, I believe it is my re-emerging soul seeking beauty. Beauty that belongs to me, no one else.

I wonder, has anyone else had this kind of experience with their New Year's word?
Merry ME

P.S. As much as I like the unfolding process, I also find it a little nerve wracking. I'm not used to saying "this is what I like/feel/think." I'm more comfortable asking what you like/feel/think, then deferring to your choice.  It drives Sweetie crazy. In my defense,  I'm not usually so set on doing things my way that it's worth the ensuing argument. It's easier to be in the world by simply going along.  Is it possible that I've crossed over yet another threshold? Have I walked through a turquoise door into a place where  what I like/feel/think is really matters?

Only time will tell. Time and lots of trips to the Home Depot. Apparently when one paints a door, one then needs to paint the shutters, house trim and garage door. Who knew?

1 comment:

sister jean said...

one doesn't have to paint the shutters, trim & garage door to match the new threshold if one doesn't like/feel/want to. its your design make it what you want!