Peeling Bark into The Threshold of the Past

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I walk around the elementary school of my childhood. Its cracked sidewalk has never changed. This brings me comfort. Old rusty fences that still are marked “1955” are the brave sentinels that somehow let people and dogs through their beleaguered locks. I stare into the old school office- same flesh colored counter, the turnaround where I waited for a ride after Brownie scouts, the old paper bark tree- still there. Pepper tree, jacaranda, smooth eucalyptus with wrinkles in its skin. Still there, old friend. The runway on the playground where I took off in flight. Still providing lift off, but now with a heavier plane. The planter where we circled up and sang whiney old ballads, and the parking lot where we carried cakes to the PTA bake auction, still there. The back stop where Debby Cogley and I “hid” homemade Wonka’s peanut butter chocolate bars from 3rd grade boys, still there. The silver hallway poles, whirling magic sticks as entryways into the Charlotte Anthony Halloween Carnival, still there, the cafeteria, the place where a junior Girl Scout pulled me onto her lap and made this 5 year old feel special, still there. Not much has changed in the hardware. A lot has changed in the soft ware, but the ghosts of kindness, blessing, and memory still haunt and bless the halls.Walking that place makes them feel real once again.  I am so glad. So grateful.

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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