Threshold Moments

Threshold Moments

The rhythm of emergence is a gradual slow beat always inching its way forward; change remains faithful to itself until the new unfolds in the sole confidence of true arrival.

— John O’Donohue, in “Thresholds”

Recently I met with my therapist / coach — as I do once each month — and our conversation focused on the threshold nature of this moment. We talked about the end of my summer break, the return to a new UUCC program year, the Getty kids’ return to school, and the older one’s recent driver’s license achievement (and my surprisingly tearful reaction to that achievement!).

On my own I probably wouldn’t have framed this time as a threshold moment — after all, my impulse is to treat these seasonal shifts as routine, ordinary, unremarkable. Surely, a threshold is much more profound than that.

Writer John O’Donohue might disagree with that assessment. In the “Thresholds” section of his book To Bless the Space Between Us, he uses nature’s seasons to illustrate how one might best think about thresholds: “Change arrives in nature when time has ripened. … It is as though [the seasons] were moving forward in a rhythm set from within a continuum.” He reminds the reader,

“At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it?”

This reflection on O’Donohue’s writing led to deeper consideration of what might be beyond this threshold moment. What frontier awaits for UUCC as we emerge into the next chapter of congregational life? At what parenting threshold am I now standing? What needs to be left behind? What gifts need to be cultivated?

There are no singular, absolute answers to these questions. All the same, it matters to ask, to imagine, to explore.

Curiously yours,


  1. Gail Thompson

    I too have never thought in terms of “thresholds”. Rather my mind has always seen change as opportunity for a new challenge. The decision is to walk through that open door or not. The best part is, if this door is not taken, there will be others.
    Threshold is a good image. Thank you.

  2. John Guy

    Good Afternoon Rev Paige – I very much agree with your reference author about seasons. As seasons is a relatively easy metaphor for change as Mother Nature does her thing. It’s gradual at first and when least expected it’s there. And you are part of it. That revelation is a very useful ingredient of maturity in one’s capacities. You have also experienced another threshold you did not mention in your essay . That threshold is completing what essentially is your first half of life on this planet. The beginning of one’s sixth decade is a realization that for the most part actuarially one has finished the first half of life and one enters the zone of what are my expectations and goals for the second half of life ,actuarially . That opens manifold opportunities for thinking people ,of whom UUs are in huge numbers. May you enjoy the thrill of exploring those second half opportunities and ,as Gail says, choose your pathways accordingly . Best regard John Guy

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