This month we continue the theme of thresholds with our June Pilgrim in Residence, Patricia Turner of A Photographic Sage. Patricia will be sharing about her threshold pilgrimage each Wednesday this month. She is currently on this journey throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom and has been sending me posts and images along the way. You can read more about Patricia’s preparations for her pilgrimage here. -Lacy
THE TIME HAS COME…
I am, truly, on a threshold. It is a liminal time in my life. Retired from 30 years of teaching, I faced the passage from one way of being into another. I stood at the doorway, glimpsing the space beyond but unable, or unwilling, to cross into it.
The pilgrimage I am taking, and which I will be sharing with you, will help me reconcile my past reality with my current one. I want to be awakened to all the possibilities my life now holds in store for me.
I will be exploring three facets of that new life in three different and distinct locations, each one chosen for its significance to the specific question I will be exploring and for its “thinness.”
The ancient Celts believed that heaven and earth were 3 feet apart but in some places—places that have come to be known as “thin places”—the space between is much closer. Thin places are where the interaction between the material world and the Divine is freer and a connection is more easily accessible. It seemed to me that in those singular places I would gain more insight into my threshold questions.
Today’s post comes from the first leg of my journey—the Burren in County Clare, Ireland. It is a place I’ve come to love after several visits so it is a good place to begin. It is both familiar and reassuring.
I’ve felt John O’Donohue’s presence most profoundly here, staying as I am in the house he used for his yearly retreats. After he left the priesthood, which had been his life for 19 years, he forged a new way of sharing his gifts with others. That is what I hope to find now. While introducing my friends to this magical place, I am opening my heart to becoming a well-practiced listener and witness as well as the teacher.
The threshold I crossed during my week on the Burren was one anchored in the very idea of community. Community, for me, is acknowledging the gifts and contributions of others and offering yours freely and without question—to strangers as well as to friends. It also requires letting go of some of the “control.” It is a very liberating feeling!
I have thought of thresholds as being one way; you cross over and that’s that. Here, in the Burren and in community, I recognized that some thresholds can be more fluid. Teacher/Witness, Witness/Teacher—the door can swing both ways.
One needn’t leave things behind, irrevocably, when you cross into a new way of relationship with the world. This circle of stones in Ballyvaughan represented community for me (pictured below). All those people in our lives, past and present, who come together to enclose and protect you—these people are in your circle. What a gift they are for us; how greatly we should celebrate them every day.
What does community mean to you? Who are the people in your circle?