The reflection shared here has no tales of garden, turtles, woodpeckers; no sudden discoveries or mesmerized moments. It does have a back story, which begins: in the late 1990s, after more than a decade of involvement with the people and vision of Rolling Ridge, Bob and Jackie Sabath began their journey to residential community here. This meant, among other things, building a home. After profound giving of time, creativity, artistry, nurturing energy, sweat, and personal resources, a lovely, gracious and ever-hospitable home was built, Foxfire; and here Jackie and Bob have lived and loved for 15 years. Words cannot describe, but we all know, what a profound gift their presence (vision, dreams, energy, love, skill, compassion) has been for Rolling Ridge.
Now the time has come for them to move back to the city, to be closer to their children and grandchildren, and to follow their call and life's journey around the next bend in the road. It so happened that Thursday was the last community supper we would spend with them. This got me thinking about thresholds, and led to this sharing as we gathered in the living room before the meal.
That things change is a truism. That we continually move, shift, grow is a good thing, because it means we are alive and responsive to the world around us and within us. In the flow of change, we trip over, fall through, or gracefully transverse thresholds all the time. There are so many, we give them barely a thought...until we come to one whose frame and lintel are so sharp, so distinct, so poignant it gives us pause.
The thing about thresholds is that they have two sides. There is the going into, moving forward, embracing side; and the leaving from, moving away, letting go side. The deepest dance of lives takes place in the balance; that is, between fully and freely embracing and just as freely letting go. Mary Oliver, of course, gave this dance poetry. She wrote, "To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go."
She writes on the edge of autumn, watching the trees change color and the cattails burst and float away; knowing that the hues and smells and light on the pond will never be seen or experienced again in quite the same way.
Here we are in the midst of a verdant and sun-drenched season, on the cusp of the summer solstice, but we have reached the very same threshold. For months and for years we have engaged our little community on this mountain, or perhaps with this mountain and all its creatures. Our lives have depended on it. We have gathered for countless meals and celebrations, we've chopped wood and weeded, scrubbed and cooked, shoveled and planted, all the while holding one another against our bones.
Although we've done it over and over on Thursday nights for weeks and weeks, I am aware that this is the last time we will gather in quite this way, in this place, with these people, in this particular dance. The threshold presents itself.
I don't want to be morose about it, but it does seem that modern Westerners such as ourselves tend to squirm uncomfortably at these doorways. Our language tells us to move on, get over it, focus on our goals, look to the future. Perhaps we are uneasy with the unpredictable quality of change, that letting go means releasing control. Also, our hearts break.
So I invite us now to screw our courage to the sticking place and pause for a moment on this threshold; to hold hands in our circle and be aware of each dear presence in it. To give thanks for the inexpressibly lovely gift of our time together over the days since last November when Kate and Josh and Emma and Ana moved in, and for the circles within circles, the eddies and little whirlpools of our individual relationships flowing in and out of each other's dwellings and lives.
Let's remember as we do so, that while thresholds require heart and vulnerability to cross with awareness, they are also places of mystery and transformation and healing. The doorway doesn't stand in a desert. It's here, now; it's wrapped with the many layers of the Divine, the luminescent web of lives, entwining threads of love and connection; indeed, the entire being of the universe. Though we each must cross uniquely, we are not alone. I close with a Celtic blessing for each one as we hold hands in our circle before this threshold:
Deep comfort of the Earth below you,
Vast joy of the Heavens above you,
Great peace of the Infinite within you.
May it be so.
Image: Deer Spring Creek at Rolling Ridge