|Threshold in the hutong district of Beijing, China|
On my trip to China in 2002 I was totally enthralled with the ancient culture. It is where I developed my love of Taoist thought and walking on the Great Wall ranks right up there as one of my top 3 life experiences. (The other two are swimming with dolphins in Bermuda and visiting "ground zero" at Nagasaki, Japan)
We spent an afternoon in the ancient hutong district in Beijing and it was there I learned about a new way of regarding the "threshold".
In the entrances to the houses in the hutong, the threshold was a high stone. The more important the personage dwelling there, the higher the stone. It was a symbol of rank but even the least important had a stone of 8-10". It was to keep the luck of the home from flowing out.
You never, ever, stepped on a threshold. You stepped over it. Men stepped over left foot first, women right foot first. The height of the stone and the stepping ritual was meant to slow a person down so that the passage over and into was done with deliberation and respect.
|My hand painted noren cloth|
Both of these threshold examples remind us that the experience of "crossing over" should be done deliberately and with respect. Ritual and ceremony at life's crucial thresholds has diminished in our Western culture. Rites of passage are less important now than in the past. Perhaps, that is an unfortunate thing. Some moments should be approached with thoughtful consideration. Some passages deserve more than a Hallmark card.
Preparing for this trip has taken on a ceremonial tenor for me. Each part, from writing in my vade mecum, preparing my packing list, reading special books and musing on thresholds, has brought me slowly and respectfully into the experience of this pilgrimage. I want to approach this journey with a gradually maturing sense of awe and gratitude. I am truly blessed to be able to make this journey at all and I'm well aware of this. This series of posts prior to my departure are made to illustrate the need to make the departing as important as the journeying itself. Each has its role to play.