In the fall when we chose our worship themes for the year, we decided on the theme of “thresholds” for May. Thresholds are those places between and it seemed like a promising theme for a congregation between settled ministers and on the cusp of its second of two interim years.
According to dictionary.com a threshold is “the sill of a doorway,” “the entrance to a house or building,” or “any place or point of entering or beginning.” We cross thresholds every day of our lives, usually without giving them much thought. We enter and leave our homes, our yards. We move from room to room. We don’t tend to think overly much about the spaces between – about what we are leaving behind and about what is coming next.
But lately, because of this COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves living in the in-between, residing continuously on the threshold between the way things once were and the way things will one day be. We are forced to pause in this liminal space with plenty of time to reflect and to imagine. How do we want to emerge from this time…as individuals…as a society?
Indian novelist Arundhati Roy recently described the pandemic as a “portal.” She writes:
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoking skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
As we enter the month of May, uncertain where it will lead, I invite you to imagine with intention. Ask yourselves,
What do we, as a society want to bring with us?
What do we want to leave behind?
More personally, ask yourselves, too,
What do I want to bring with me?
What do I want to leave behind?
As the late political theorist, John Schaar, once wrote, “The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.”
In that spirit, I invite you to imagine with me that this pandemic is at one level an invitation to transformation. How will you respond?