The Threshold Choir: helping others through transitions

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photo by Ginny Schneider

Yesterday, I practiced sitting bedside. There were three of us and our voices created a beautiful moonlike glow of sound all around a friend lying reclined on a living room chair. As the simple songs floated over her, and our voices listened intently to one another, I felt once again even in myself the healing power of song and of creating an ambiance together that helps smooth the path for another from transition to transition, whether it’s from sickness to health, or busyness to slowing down. In this case, we were treating a friend to sweet, calming music after a tiring week, and syncing our voices together to prepare for others who could benefit from this gift.

Music really can help us do that. Our little threshold choir often helps those transitioning from sickness to health, or illness to death, but, really, song has been used for centuries, millennia, to “cover the threshold with flowers”- to lift a child into the realm of sleep, to mark the changes and passages of the day, or to aid a friend, or even ourselves into hopes and reassurances. What song or melody can gently hold your hand through a transition today?

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Transitioning into September

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Summer is daintily putting on her September gown, donning a sheath of early winds, as golden leaves are already dropping in small doses like up-dos falling into their autumn tresses. Watching summer transition over into autumn up here in western Washington can be a difficult thing. We waited so long for this warm, bright season, and now we find ourselves bidding farewell to blue skies and longer passages of light, only to wonder when the rain will set in, those long, drippy days, bathed in grey flannel skies.

I found a gentler way to cross this threshold, however, and it includes choice words. Knowing others have tiptoed lightly into September over centuries, millennia, and written about it, for some reason, gives an ounce or two of comfort, and brings beauty to an otherwise dreary passageway.

“The Spirit of Gardening” website at http://www.gardendigest.com/quotes.htm has been just the spoonful of delight that has helped me enjoy this threshold over the last few years. Choose a month, choose a season, and you’ll be treated to snatches of poetry and yummy quotes that hold your hand when nature’s changes come.

How can you resist John Updike’s quote from his poem “September”:

“Like plates washed clean/ With suds, the days/ Are polished with/ A morning haze. 

or “Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields, The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth And you walk under the red light of fall . . .” a quote from an Autumn Equinox ritual. How can you not appreciate the turns of season more with such choicely worded offerings!

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.