Thresholds and Unlived Lives

Each and every day we have an opportunity to make a new beginning or choose to continue further along the journey we have been travelling thus far. Sometimes it is time to stay and explore further the treasures we have started unwrapping on this wonderful pathway we have discovered. We want to experience their full richness, unfurling their layers of surprises and joys slowly, savouring each moment, like a child unwrapping Christmas presents hidden in shiny papers and ribbons.  So we stay for some time, quite happily occupied, feeling fulfilled and rich in heart and soul. Time flies and we are absorbed with wonder and awe at what is revealed, and we are content. It matters not that we have unwrapped almost all the gifts. We forget to listen to the faint urgings we hear from afar. The urgings of the soul who knows that death abides in sameness. The soul sees that we are approaching a threshold.

Sometimes a chilly wind blows in from the edges of our being; we feel inky black brooding storm clouds gathering and guess there are storms ahead that will change our landscape. Our fear of the unfamiliar tingles, will these storms break over our heads engulfing us with their icy rain or will the darkness suddenly dissipate, revealing new beauty, rainbows of glorious hues? We are thrust, evicted out of our complacency, becoming alert to new possibility, threat or danger. Adrenalin courses through our systems and we become vibrant, alert and attentive, to each nuance, each intuition, each smell and change of expression around us. Our senses on alert, we crouch; do we run? Do we stay? Excitement builds as new thresholds open before us and beckon us to come, see. Do we run? Do we stay?

We peer carefully at this new threshold opening before us. Is its ground solid? Will we fall? Is there danger? We look back our familiar path with nostalgia and sigh. Do we run? Do we stay? Which way is up? Which way is down? Where will this lead us? Dare we go? Looking forwards with desire, looking backwards with familiarity we find ourselves at that threshold of choosing, yet again. We remember being here before. We search around us for clues, answers, we find none. Our decision it seems, and ours alone. So we loiter, trying at first to look inconspicuous, eventually getting quite brazen about our reticence despite others rushing past us down  paths ahead with seemingly little hesitation. We try to convince ourselves that they are being brash, as we jump at our own shadow and hope no-one is looking.

Eventually we place one foot on this new strange path and then another, and we take a few tentative steps. Our heart stops beating quite so wildly. No-one has told us to turn back. We admit; privately of course, that we were really a bit bored with the sameness of before. The thought of the new does hold a certain thrill…and our hesitant steps quicken, then break into a run without realising it, running joyfully again towards whatever is ahead of us with the wind in our hair and a song on our lips and the sun comes out to warm us as we go. We feel what it is to be truly alive again in these moments.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing; it enables us to see more clearly the path we have chosen to be our life; and how these choices meet and merge to paint the whole artwork we are creating. What happened to the lives of those choices you had as options but did not choose? Perhaps those unlived lives run parallel to your current life and subtly continue to affect your choices, unknown to you, keeping all possibility open to you.

John O Donohue in Benedictus, says the following: ‘Maybe this is one of the secrets of death: that you only die when your invisible, unchosen lives have also fulfilled themselves, so that you bring into the eternal world not only your one known life but also the unknown, unchosen lives as well. Maybe your visible life is but the outer edge of a whole enterprise of creativity and realisation in which you are unknowingly involved’. And he suggests this as a blessing which we can offer all those unknown lives that make up our whole and invoke when we meet our thresholds.

For A New Beginning

In out- of -the- way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.


For a long time it has watched your desire,

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Noticing how you willed yourself on

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.


It watched you play with the seduction of safety

And the grey promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.


Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plenitude opening before you.


Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is one with your life’s desire.


Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.