Crossing the Threshold   Leave a comment

Today is the first time I haven’t felt sad since my mother became sick, declined and passed away; the first time since that period of preparation, when I was so busy doing things that I barely had the time to navigate my emotions, to just be. Today is the first time I haven’t felt to sad and empty since my mother’s funeral and burial…and then the aftermath in which I am left alone with myself and my grief. 

Upon our arrival at the church, before the funeral, my immediate family and I waited in the narthex. I stood next to my husband as the pallbearers brought my mother in, and I gazed upon that casket, the box that held my mother, kept me from seeing her face or holding her hand ever again in this life. Prayers were chanted at the threshold, a Gospel read – and as I stood watching my brother preside over our mother’s farewell to this earthly presence and her initiation into a New Life, I was struck with a vivid memory. Two years and almost six months prior to this day I stood at the very same threshold: my parents together at my left side, my brother before me in almost exactly the same place, and my husband-to-be waiting at my right. This is where my new life as a wife began, at this same threshold, surrounded by the same people.

At this morning’s Liturgy a baby was baptized. His parents and godparents held him there, at the threshold. The pastor stood before them, prayed the Rite of Exorcism, received this little child’s assent to the Faith through his godparents, and a new life in Christ began. All at the threshold.

As I watched this child begin his walk into the Light of Faith, into this parish family, I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace and joy. I was not sad at the loss of my mom (I hadn’t forgotten her, but there seemed no need to be sad). I didn’t feel that familiar sting of hurt and even resentment at not having a child of my own. Instead, my mind flashed to the scene of my wedding day; those few days earlier at my mom’s funeral; and now, at the baptism of this child whom I don’t know, who is not part of my family – but now really is, because he is my brother in the Faith, the son of my Father. All of this began, begins, at the Threshold. As the Liturgy continued I had a realization that I suppose comes rather late in my “Christian career” – but, better late than never! I realized that I have crossed that Threshold into the church hundreds of times, and for each one of them I might as well have been crossing the threshold of anyplace: a house, a store, work, school, a bar…a church. We open doors and walk over thresholds every day, and it’s all about getting from Point A to Point B. Oh, sometimes we’re excited, maybe nervous; scared, angry, happy. Often, we’re just going in or coming out; in and out of our lives.

That threshold is where it all begins and where it all ends, and that is highly significant. But today I finally tuned into the fact that what happens in between, in all of those times we cross back and forth over the threshold, is the most significant of all. What I bring to God is important to Him, the good and the bad, my thanks and my supplication, my joy and my sadness. He wants me to bring me to Him – all of me – without hesitation or fear. At the same time, I know that God wants me to take something away when I cross the Threshold back into the world. He wants me, more than anything, to take Him with me. 

All of this hit me like a tidal wave this morning, as if I were a child who’d just learned some profound truth in Sunday school. I absorbed it with just that same wonder, as if discovering that God exists, that He loves me, for the very first time. 

Jesus, the Bridegroom, is coming. He is near. He is more near to me than I realized, and I am so grateful. The desert through which I have been wandering these weeks is is still near, too. I am walking along its edges, and I have no doubt that I will find myself there again. But the Door to the Threshold is always open to me, and to us all. He is asking me to open the door to the threshold of my heart, too, and for the first time in a while I want Him to come in and rest with me and in me.

“First: [we must] recognize our dryness, our incapacity to give life. Recognize this. Second, to ask: ‘Lord, I want to be fruitful. I want my life to give life, that my faith be fruitful and go forward and I can give it to others.’ ‘Lord I am sterile. I can’t. You can. I am a desert. I can’t. You Can.’”  

~ Pope Francis, Homily 19 December 2013

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Posted December 22, 2013 by palsa99 in Uncategorized

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