I stand at the threshold of an adventure. It awaits my first step.
For me, this threshold is the passage from a young man’s hard work to a seasoned artist’s way. For you it might be from parent to empty-nester, from employed to retired, from dependent to independence – or back to becoming dependent once again. No one can push us across the threshold. We must choose. And once we do – all things work for the good of the courageous who step out in courage.
In his groundbreaking work “Soulcrafting”, Bill Plotkin offers earth rituals for people making transformative steps in their lives. I’m going to quote a good chunk of his introduction here.
…..from Soulcrafting by Bill Plotkin
What’s involved is both a surrender of and a surrender to; first a surrender of your beliefs about how you were supposed to be and how the world was supposed to work, and then a surrender to your deepest and wildest passions.
What you must surrender is nothing less than the summer house of your first personality.\; the worldview you began forming in the expansive growing season of adolescence and that carried you through your first adulthood. This is the house you have been carefully building, furnishing, and accessorizing at least since puberty. Now, just as you are getting ready to enjoy the completed house, you hear a knock and the front door swings open. There stand three strange angels, as D.H. Lawrence called them, motioning to you, informing you it’s time to leave --- forever. You begin to protest but you know it’s useless; it’s time to go.
The angels have arrived to summon you (like Abraham) to the adventure for which you have longed. They are your guides to soul. But the opportunity does not arrive in the form you had imagined. It arrives in the middle of an enormous storm; now the immense loneliness begins.
Why an immense loneliness? In surrendering the mainstays of your former worldview and separating yourself from everyday community life, your old anchors and familiar reference points disappear. The descent necessarily begins with an immense loneliness, and only someone who possesses the skills required to complete a first house of personality --- only that person is going to be ready to handle that degree of loneliness. Although the knock on the door does not require you to be alone per se, it does require you to go your own way.
Leaving your summer house, however, does not mean you must betray your preexisting responsibilities. It doesn’t necessarily require you to quit your job, sell your house, leave your marriage, or end friendships. It can be done without abandoning your children….
What leaving your summer house does require is that you surrender what no longer supports your exploration of your deepest nature. You will discover soon enough which roles, relationships, activities, and possessions get in the way of that exploration: you are being asked to radically simplify your life.
Nature-based people understand that the more complete the separation from former routines, the more effective the descent. This is in part why their rites of initiation into adulthood occur before the individual is burdened with adult responsibilities --- children, spouse, and community obligations.
THE KNOCK ON THE DOOR
When the knock on the door arrives you are being asked to descend into psycho-spiritual darkness, the nightworld of mysteries, the womb of true character. David Whyte describes this moment in the intimate voice with which a wise and caring elder might speak to a frightened initiate:
…Time to go into the dark
Where the night has eyes
To recognize its own.
There you can be sure
You are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
Further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
Except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
The world was made to be free in: this we know in our bones, and this definitive and fearful knowledge is what both supports us and requires us to turn away from our secure but less-than-joyful lives.
Here's a little joy i put on the page.
While the Moon is Full
Clouds are such momentary creations
never to be repeated
I want my words to be great stone cliffs
scripture, frozen, undiminished by passing days
but my time is only a season of the moon
coming full only to turn and go
so let these words be spoken
while the moon rises
and let the clouds carry them to the cliffs
where they’ll rain down
tears on the ancient face
some other moonstruck fool
will let morning mists inspire
a similar riff