thresh·old – October 31, 2013

thresh·old  noun \ˈthresh-ˌhōld, ˈthre-ˌshōld\

1:  the plank, stone, or piece of timber that lies under a door :  sill

2a :  gate, door;

b (1) :  end, boundary; specifically :  the end of a runway (2) :  the place or point of entering or beginning :  outset

3a :  the point at which a physiological or psychological effect begins to be produced

b :  a level, point, or value above which something is true or will take place and below which it is not or will not

What does the word ‘threshold’ mean?

I was asked this question recently.  The woman was fluent in English, yet this word was new to her.  Understandably so.  I struggled to give an adequate definition.  I kept landing on the phrase “threshold of pain” (3. A: the point at which a physiological or psychological effect begins to be produced).  She asked because we both had walked through an art installation called…I’m sure you’ve guessed, “Threshold.”  It was recently installed at the retreat center I visited this past month.  It’s hard to describe the piece, so I’ll just post the photo for you to see.


The piece is constructed with Texas limestone and has three separate entrances (the piece was constructed using multiples of 3).  The entire piece plays on round shapes, evoking a maternal, womb-like feel at moments.  Its floor itself is also made of stone, staying true to the name threshold (1:  the plank, stone, or piece of timber that lies under a door), implying that the skies are a sort of door.

threshold circle

For me, the standout part of this installation was the tower.  To enter into the tower, one must bow to pass through the threshold (2.a: gate, door).  It is a humbling move to awkwardly bend the body to enter.  It was a tall, tiny space, yet I immediately felt safe, secure and held.  What a contrast to the tube of an MRI machine, which I found to be scary and confining.  I knew I had to return later when I could be there alone.  That afternoon I walked back and had a sacred moment there. The acoustics invited a song, so I softly sang “For the Beauty of the Earth.”  And then I just stood there.  Safe and at peace.

threshold entry

Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise! 

Lately, I’ve had the sense that God is moving and preparing me for changes.  I don’t know what those changes will be, but as I described it recently, I can feel his moves and bumps indicating that something is happening.  I realize how much I am at the threshold (2b : end, boundary; the place or point of entering or beginning) of something new.

So, what does threshold mean for me?  It means both an ending and a beginning.  Yet, it also means I am surrounded and held in a set structure, the structure of a threshold.  The true threshold.  God my Father.

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