We did a little remodel on our house last summer. What had originally been a wide open entryway is now a smaller, insulated hallway between the entry door and the door that leads into the kitchen and the rest of the house. The entry is a storage place for coats, hats, boots, etc… and a transition zone between the outside and the inside. In a perfect world, it would keep the elements (snow, rain, mud, leaves…) outside and the heat inside.
Well. You can probably guess how that’s going.
The world is perfectly imperfect and our tidy plan to keep the outer mess from mingling with the inner mess has not really worked.
The renovations were complete last spring, but it was late October before I noticed that when you go out of the kitchen door, close it behind you and then open the outside door, the kitchen door pops open again. You then have to take a step back and close the kitchen door again before you can slip through the outer door, trying to close it without disrupting the inner door. As the temperatures dropped, this inconvenience became increasingly obvious. The entryway is not heated and the double bursts of cold air into the kitchen whenever someone left or entered the house alternated between frustrating and humorous. After several weeks of increasing attention to this “problem”, I finally realized that there was some sort of message beyond the doors and their faulty handles that I was supposed to be paying attention to. I paused and asked myself. “What’s the teaching for me here?”
As soon as I asked this question, my attention to these partnered doorways became curiosity rather than frustration. I began to think about thresholds and the nature of transitions. The common saying “when one door closes, another opens” was literally true in my home. Now I was considering how it was true in other aspects of my life. Was there some wisdom here that could support me in the transitions that are constantly arriving in my life?
Could I be more intentional about both the opening and the closing of those doors?
Can I turn to face the door closing behind me with gratitude and acknowledgement of an ending?
Can I face a newly opened door, or even an unopened door, with curiosity and courage?
How could I best support others in walking through doors that had opened for them or closed firmly behind them?
I began to notice that life is full of thresholds both big and small. In the program that I manage, a student announced she was leaving. A non-profit where I have served as a board member has decided to fold. A colleague announced her departure and a recruitment process began. My son, a high school senior, got news of being rejected from his first choice college one evening. A few hours later, he received news of acceptance to two other wonderful options.
As we greet a new year, I am weary. It has taken a lot of energy to face the constant uncertainty of the last few years. I have often thought about the way in which one threshold leads directly to another and another…you can read an old poem about that here.
But I am also renewed and refreshed by this new perspective, this invitation to pay attention to the quality of my presence at the threshold.
As I step into 2022, I will endeavor to acknowledge the closing doors with gratitude for lessons offered and gifts received. And I will aspire to greet each opening door with curiosity, patience, and kindness.
May the threshold of this new year offer you a moment to pause too – a moment in which you may glance back at the closing doors with gratitude, forgiveness, and peace and look ahead toward all that awaits with loving intention, ease, and hope.