In my life, I have been present to the dying of two precious loved ones: my brother, age 36, and my mother, age 68. Each too young for death to be rationalized as a graceful ending to a long and well-lived life (although both my brother and mother blessed, and continue to bless, our family and the world in endless ways). Their deaths were not welcomed thresholds, but when I remember those final days, I know, without doubt, that they were sacred places where the veil between life and death, earth and heaven, was very thin.
Perhaps, as we sat vigil beside their still bodies, the spirits of my mother and brother were already traveling a great distance — across the threshold of heaven and earth. Certainly in our vigil-keeping, we felt the “thinness” of the veil. For me, there were times when I could no longer stand upright, but needed to sit on the floor, such was the weight of a Sacred, Loving Presence very near us.
As autumn begins, I consider the threshold of dying and releasing. The trees do it so gracefully and beautifully each year. They come into their truest colors and, for a moment, are magnificent and dazzling, and then they let go — their leaves dancing in the air — then falling — to nourish the ground for new life.
Parker Palmer writes:
“I began to understand a simple fact: all the “falling” that’s going on out there is full of promise. Seeds are being planted and leaves are being composted as earth prepares for yet another uprising of green.
Today, at age 76 — as I weather the autumn of my own life — I find nature a trustworthy guide. It’s easy to fixate on everything that goes to ground as time goes by: the disintegration of a relationship, the disappearance of good work well-done, the diminishment of a sense of purpose and meaning. But, as I’ve come to understand that life “composts” and “seeds” us as autumn does the earth, I’ve seen how possibility gets planted in us even in the most difficult of times.”
I wonder how I might learn from the trees and leaves — how to let go when the time comes — how to dance with each breeze — and at every threshold, even in the darker thresholds of loss, be open to the gifts of transformation.
In this autumn season I want to observe the trees and leaves, and ask: What am I being called to release? I will pay attention and notice how the trees and leaves do it. Maybe even join in their dance…
Dear friends, may you accept the invitations to dance in this season of your life~
A Contemplative Walk: You are invited to take an autumn contemplative walk with a camera (the camera on your phone is fine). Or simply be present to what you encounter. You may choose to “receive” images of releasing and/or thresholds.
In her book, “The Soul’s Slow Ripening” Christine Valters Paintner invites us to notice thresholds:
“Your invitation is to walk and be open to noticing all the places of threshold you discover: doorways, gates, transition places from one kind of space to another, such as the transition from home to work or from city to countryside. See what you notice as you bring this awareness with you. As you encounter each threshold, use your camera (or eyes) to receive an image of it to carry with you. Notice which thresholds especially stir your heart.
When you return home see if one of these images speaks to your heart and rest with it a while. What might it reveal about the threshold you are standing on in your own life?”
If you would like to share your picture on this site, please send it to me in an email and I will post it for you: firstname.lastname@example.org. (I’m still working on how to allow posting of images within the comments section.) I would also be happy to include your comments with your image – or you can post those separately.
(More detailed guidelines for taking a contemplative walk can be found on the link at the top of the page.)