“Beauty isn’t all about nice loveliness. Beauty is about more rounded, substantial becoming. It’s about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace…”John O’Donohue
Threshold. There’s a word that we don’t hear everyday. According to the dictionary, a threshold is any point or place of entering or beginning.
One of my dearest friends, my dog Katy of 14 years, died recently. The pain of loss was unbelievably acute. For days, I could sense nothing but the loss of her – the way in which every morning we sat together in our favorite chair by the window for a quiet time or how her small head rested on the windowsill waiting and watching for me to come home. She would greet me at the front door peering through the glass with a stuffed toy in her mouth ready to go outside. I could recount fifty more examples. You could recount hundreds of stories about those that you have loved and lost. Everyone suffers loss in their lifetime. It’s inevitable.
But today I sat in that familiar chair and realized that my head and heart were in a slightly different place. I wasn’t completely consumed by the heartbreak. I was leaning more towards the future and observing and being grateful for the present.
The Irish poet, John O’Donohue, defines this movement as crossing through a threshold. “A threshold is a line that separates two territories of spirit.” Don’t be fooled. You can not willfully determine how fast you will move through your grief. “It’s a very subtle thing” as one friend reminded me. One day you wake up and your life seems a little different.
“It’s what you do with the threshold that’s important.” states O”Donohue in his interview with Krista Tippett during an On Being podcast.
I know that I don’t look forward to experiencing acute emotional pain. Does anyone? We would rather live like medieval knights in armored regalia protecting our vulnerability from others and ourselves. However, facing the loss when it arises to the surface and trusting that with God’s help we will get through, we will arrive at a better place – a place of a greater capacity for empathy and compassion. Usually unbeknownst to us, we are more whole, beautiful, and understanding of others in their time of loss. Be brave, my friends – one small step at a time.
“Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.” Isaiah 35:10
John O’ Donohue Interview