A threshold is not a simple boundary; It is … a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up. This is one reason such vital crossings were often clothed in ritual.
To Bless the Space Between Us
If the poet philosopher John O’Donahue were still alive, maybe he would have written an updated version of his life-saving book To Bless the Space Between Us. Maybe that revised edition would include the blessing I was searching for last Tuesday.
Me and four of my closest friends — all of us middle-aged, cis-gender, straight white women — needed a ritual to bless our much younger friend, May, who would soon be on her way to Thailand for a series of sex reassignment surgeries.
This was May’s threshold, but it was ours as well. We wanted May to feel our support as she followed through on years of discerning this path. We wanted May and her partner to know that a spiritual support squad — a group of people cheering “we listen to your heart’s desire and we respond with love and joy!” — walked beside them on what is often a lonely journey.
My robust bookshelves and nook-and-cranny internet searches did not turn up such a blessing from a Christian perspective, so we patched one together ourselves.
As we did so, I realized why thresholds need rituals. Over the course of three decades of friendship, this group circled up to bless pregnancies, celebrate births and weddings, and grieve the deaths of parents, a spouse, and a child. Standing with one another at the personal thresholds of life and death is something we know how to do deep in our bones.
Standing in solidarity at a cultural threshold is not as familiar. As we gathered up our loving energy to strengthen May and her partner, we named out loud our hopes that the unjust treatment of trans people will end. We named the interconnected ways race, class, ethnicity, and immigrant status compound those injustices. We affirmed the cultural journey we are on as a people of God creating a more loving and inclusive world.
Because of our love, deeply rooted in having watched May grow up, this was more than just a performance for Pride Month. It was a micro-community of prayer and action taking one more step across a threshold of initiation into the ongoing and necessary work of creating a more hospitable world for all people.
If you have created a ritual for social change or a blessing at a public threshold, please share it with the world. Let the people see we are on the move, following the Spirit to a place of ever more radical love.