Thresholds

4 July 2021

“It is wise in your own life to be able to recognise and acknowledge the key thresholds:

to take your time, to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there,

to listen inwards with complete attention

until you hear the inner voice calling you forward.

(This is one reason why such vital crossings were always clothed in ritual.)”

John O’Donohue, Thresholds

It’s not often that I throw quotes into the blogosphere, but this one emerged in Stephanie Quirk’s yoga class this morning – the last of a short series on Yoga Appropriate for this Time. The course acknowledges the huge upheaval that we have all undergone in this so-not-over Pandemic. Personal lives, social lives, politics, all up-ended. Opportunities for change grasped or slipping through our fingers. Of course what happens on the yoga mat is personal, but also universal. We all breath, and if we put our bodies in a particular posture, the breath changes. As the breath changes, so does the mind. So that’s why the experience is both personal and universal. The practice is to learn the asanas – the postures, and also to learn to observe the changes that they engender in breath and mind. The practice this morning was designed to calm anxiety and encourage the qualities of assurance and resolution. I will follow it for a while, because it is exactly what I need at the moment.

In the above quote, I have transposed the line about ritual, because it follows my train of thought better in this position. The idea being, that ritual helps us recognise the threshold we are about to cross. I am tempted to put a photo of the Sydney Row (Blue House) kitchen here, but I can scarcely bear to look at it at the moment, not because I miss it, but because it belongs on one side of the threshold, and I am on the other.

Moving house is not only a practical exercise, it is a ritual. The van, the packing, the sorting… all practical, but also ritualistic, and that ritual is a necessary part of helping to recognise, and feel, that something important is happening.

Privet Drive

Some of you will recognise the address! I am immersing myself in the Harry Potter novels. Each book has a threshold, and all form part of what we might call ‘a hero’s journey’. In the ‘real’ world, I am staying in my cousin’s house in Hereford. It’s convenient, since we have sold ours, and also I need to fulfil some of my duties as co-executor. It seems important to take care of Kay’s personal things, as well as organising valuations, house clearance – all the practical stuff. It has also lead me to reflect a bit on what houses are for. Apparently a lot of storage for a lot of stuff. I can count 16 x 60cm cupboards, and 13 drawers, and that’s just the kitchen! Keir Starmer thinks that we should ‘make, sell and buy more in Britain’. I think we should build better and more sustainable houses and apartments, with reasonable amounts of ‘storage’ and space to carry out activities of our choice.(By the way, what are we meant to be storing?) I want better stuff that doesn’t need to be junked. Sell and buy less. Sure, make it local, but shopping as a hobby is a futile pursuit! In my experience, so much easier to buy a thing than to use it. You catch me hovering over buying a book of poetry. Do I read poetry? Usually, no, but maybe in this new life…. So buy it for the shelf? Or buy it to actually read? Watch this space.

Apologies for the introspection.

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