Here we stand in the in-between, the doorway from one year to the next. I was born at this in-between time. I was starting life on the last day of the year, when everyone else (except my birthday twins) was closing a chapter and readying to pick up with the new. It is a strange time to have a birthday (in my experience). Lots of energy, lots of expectations, and a celebration where the focus isn’t really on the present but what’s to come when the clock strikes midnight. For me, birthdays are joyous certainly, and they also conjure up deep reflections within. This paradox is much like standing in a threshold - you are neither here nor there, OR maybe you are both here and there.
In my tradition, thresholds are something to be sanctified. We place a ritual object called a mezuzah within our doorframes. This relic for me is a deep reminder that beauty and the divine can inhabit the smallest of spaces. And no matter how small or large a space is, it can be a place for contemplation, connection, and devotion.
At this gate of the new year, I invite you into reflection with me. Not to change anything (you can if you want), but to take account of your life lived. To create space for what dwells inside you: your hopes, dreams, frustrations, disappointments, resentments, insecurities, talents, grief, gifts, and everything else which resides in your being-ness. Where are the thresholds inside you - the places where two emotions, two feelings, two thoughts touch? What is the smallest drop of reverence and devotion you can invite into this internal threshold? What oh-so-very-ordinary, mundane space inside you can you adorn with a sacred, beautiful energy to show how miraculous the ordinary truly is?
I hope as you move into this next year, the threshold is a space where you can leave behind what no longer serves you, and step into the mantle of wisdom, compassion, gentleness, and knowing.
It’s the end of the year and I am tired. Thank goodness it's the season of rest (said no human ever in December, though the natural world in the northern hemisphere would disagree). It has been a year of personal accomplishments and spectacular failures. A year of deepened relationships and relationships lost. And a year of several personal health quagmires and recently a death in the family. My year could be your year. It is a year of being human.
And being human is not a moral failing. We react before we can think, we respond when we are more aware, we hide when we are frightened, we get sick, we mis-communicate, and we perpetually learn what works for us and what is no longer needed. Life is a laboratory where we are continually experimenting and course correcting. But instead of resting in this tinkering, many of us suffer trying to strive for a static arrival.
I don’t want any of us to suffer. But denying suffering isn’t not suffering. It’s denying. Sometimes denial is a much needed survival skill and other times denial is what keeps us from the freedom we seek. To cozy up to denial and willingly take a peak around the corner takes courage and requires deep vulnerability and humility. It takes embracing that we are human. And humans are collective, transitory creatures. Knowing this - how can we rest in this knowing of our ephemeralness, which we spend so much of our lives trying to deny?
One simple way is to remember we and all of our neighbors are part of nature. Not separate from it. The trees shed and we shed. The crops have a cycle and so do we. Each form we take builds upon another and another. The weather is dynamic, the seasons change, animals migrate & hibernate, and the physical ends while the luminescent remains. Surrounding all of this in every nook and cranny is the invitations for joy, engaging our senses, communing with others, celebrating, creating, laughing, weeping, mourning, and above all else being.
So in this pause of the solstice. A marking of time of one extreme before we make our way back to the other end of the continuum, I invite you to pause and give witness to your very human year. Everything you have experienced has been witnessed by the moon, the stars, the trees, and other living creatures. Who has supported you? Where has reciprocity been experienced? Where has there been a falling short? And finally what are you most proud of? And how can you savor the tiniest drop of that pride to help sustain you throughout this season?
For 2023, my wish for us all is a year of being seen and support by those who care for you, a year where you become more you and are welcomed for it, and a year where being human is filled with more ease and joy.