Considering the future . . . and planting a big one on its lips!

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Now that I’m standing at the bottom edge of the shining bridge called “middle-age” (a little bit tarnished, I must admit), I realize that before me are beautiful opportunities for more rites of passage, including my own. I look to the upcoming 21-year-old threshold for my daughter with excitement, smiling eyes, and hands rubbing together in creative scheming, but I also look ahead to my own fiftieth (only 2 years away) with rich anticipation.

When we honor ourselves, we pave the way for our children to learn to honor themselves as well. And I’m not talking about ego. I’m talking about honest to goodness self-realization- bursting onto the stage of the next milestone of our lives with bravery, not fear. Taking it by the horns, and then planting a big one on its lips and saying, “welcome!” Honoring is giving dignity and respect to something. And the turns in our lives deserve a little encouragement.

I hope you’re thinking about the upcoming milestones in your life with hope and anticipation. There’s someone standing behind you on the bridge watching, and he or she, daughter or son, is not only observing, but quietly urging you on.

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A personal threshold-crossing poem

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This time of year, we tend to cross thresholds. Children leave through our front doors for kindergarten or college, and anything in between. Summer melts away into preparations for fall. And the adjustments in our own interiors can feel like both loss and release. Here is a poem I wrote that reminds me to cross the most intimate threshold with courage- the one inside ourselves.

Bless the Threshold

Before you cross it today,

pause.

You are leaving the inside

for the outside-

the safety of interiors

for the adventure

of exteriors,

the known, for the

unknown,

or perhaps not.

For the interiors are a

a world unto themselves-

a slow-brewing moment,

a slow-stirring movement,

a dark brooding over the waters,

a bowl of mystery,

a temple of stars,

a sacred altar where

sacrifices are made

with slow, wandering hands,

and flickering hearts

near small, relentless

candles,

under the soft chant of

audible breaths.

Before you cross it today,

pause.

You are leaving the outside

for the inside.

The safety of the exteriors

for the adventure of the

interiors, the known,

for the unknown.

– Gina Marie Mammano

My own rite of passage: cloud break

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Of course, the other side of the cloud mystery, is the cloud break, beautiful, light-filled, but also in its own way, a time of passing. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” (from the band, Supersonic).Those lovely, white or grey sky-bodies that created those patches of the unknown, also float away into their own directions, and with that we get to experience both “newness” and “change”.

One of my own children today, sends off his girlfriend on an airplane back to northern California; we watch her cloud float away, his remains here. My daughter will leave the state in a couple of weeks to start her sophomore year of college- her cloud will also float.

I can only watch the sky with wonder. So beautiful those particular clouds. So wide the sky. All we can really do is send them on their way with light and blessing and wait for the next northern wind to bring them back, holding new crystals and colors in their formations to share with the rest of us.

My son will eventually float on as well. Our job, as parents, is simply to be a part of their adoring sky.

My own rite of passage: cloud mysteries

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I find myself under a July grey flannel sky pondering the threshold I’m straddling this emerging summer morning. I somehow know the sun will come out, but until then, I’m trying to enjoy the complexities of cloud-mystery: the wonder of what you can’t see behind the curtain.

“Cloud-mysteries” can describe motherhood, too. There’s something potentially exciting around the corner, or something scary, or something unknown, but the present hangs in shadowy, subtle draperies. A current weather change in my own reality is that my two young adult children (20 and 19) are both involved in romantic relationships this summer. One has had her beau for awhile, the other, my son, is engaging in something entirely new for him.

As a parent, I know there’s no way out. Children get experiences by experiencing. And, in so many ways, it’s all good. Risk. Caring. Even love. But also, often unknowingly, pain, mistakes, and heart break could be the dark gift behind door number 3. My threshold now is about trying to accept this new role of “mysterious curtain gazing”. What is my role now? Who am I if not protector, keeper, and guardian of my children?

As I think about this, I can’t help thinking that perhaps the best way to stare into a cloud of mysteries is to take a moment and stand back with awe and respect. Observe with care. And be diligent and present so that when the curtain does open, I can experience for myself the rays of light that come through- those delicious moments of enlightenment that young people (and the rest of us) every now and then get to envelope themselves in. But for now . . .

a holder of the moment. A hoper in the moment. That pair of hands that knows how to receive the gift and draw the drapes.