|Photo by David Paul Ohmer.|
I’ve been thinking about thresholds today. It was a prompt from my online journey this Advent inspired by this poem from Octavio Paz. I’ve been wondering what doors will open and what passageways I want to go through. I’ve been trying to pay attention to all of the doors I’ve passed through. It hasn’t been perfect. My mind has been lost in a to-do list today that hasn’t allowed me to be as present to my spiritual path as I might like. Still, I’ve tried to notice those different passageways from my car into the gym into the L.L. Bean flagship store. I’ve noticed who greeted me and how my body felt moving through these thresholds. I’ve been trying to fully present to the moment — but that long to-do list of items that must be shipped and sent to people I love in far away places has done its job to distract me. Alas.
Still, I want that door to open. That elusive door that will reveal what it is that is my deepest longing this Advent season. I haven’t quite figured it out yet. It’s frustrating me — but then again, I’ve never approached Advent in this way. I’ve never engaged it as a question. Instead, I’ve sought to discover something particular. I mapped out this way. This year, I’m wandering in the night holding out a lantern and hoping that some kind soul will let me in. That moment has not come. I can only hope that it comes on Christmas but then again, there may be good reason why the Christian calendar follows with the season of Epiphany. It doesn’t happen in the stable. We need to wander back into the night to understand what in the world just happened.
And yet, on this third day of #Reverb10, I’m asked to reflect on the moment that I felt most alive this year. I’m going to break the rules. Again. There are two thresholds I’ve crossed into my past. Both of these moments have reminded me who I am for better or for worse. They have reminded me that I am alive and blessed to be so. The first door that opened was in May of this year when I was at a meeting where my cell phone kept buzzing. It was my father who never, ever calls me. When the phone rang a second time, I took the phone outside and called my Dad. In that moment, he told me that my stepmother was diagnosed with cancer. It was stage 0. It wouldn’t be serious. I was assured of all these things but I was in tears. My mother had died of the same disease over 20 years ago. It doesn’t matter that the science has changed. In that moment, all of that hurt and fear came rushing back. This has made this year a very hard year. I muttered the prayer in church the first Sunday I knew, but I haven’t said much since. It’s been too overwhelming. It’s hurt too much. And yet, it reminds me that I’m alive. I survived my mother’s death even though it still rips my heart apart.
There is certainly more to say about this moment — but there’s another that happened in the summer that opened another door. That day in May, I was at a meeting with the Cumberland Association to discuss the journeys of those seeking ordination. My own journey toward ordination has changed my friendships as much as it has changed who I am. And so, it was a delightful wonder to open way too many bottles of wine and talk and talk and talk and talk with an old college friend and her husband. I haven’t been up that late in a long time. I haven’t felt so high from sharing meaningful conversation with someone that knew all my stories from those nights in college that we had done just this. There is something unique about this friend and this moment. In this moment, I remembered who I was. I’m not only a minister in the United Church of Christ. There was a whole other person just 10 years ago. Now, I’m remembering who she is and what parts of her I want to reclaim. It’s a great doorway to find myself through. Hard. But great.