Crossing Thresholds

By December 16, 2018February 14th, 2019Caregiver, Clinician, ePatient

Before I officiate at a wedding, I meet with the couple. Getting married is crossing a threshold. There’s a moment before which you aren’t married, after which you are. What’s the difference, one moment to the next?  I’ve officiated at 26 weddings over 40 years. One time, the couple couldn’t say.  I didn’t officiate.

We continuously cross thresholds in our lives and in our journey to best health. A threshold is a beginning, a change – before we weren’t, now we are. We cross a physical threshold when entering a building, a room, a town… We cross a threshold when we enter a community, a relationship, an experience. We cross a threshold as we park our cars, enter a clinic, go for an MRI; when the doctor or nurse enters the room or responds to an email; when we call our insurance company; when someone asks, How are you? We cross a threshold when we feel a lump, hear a diagnosis, throw up, panic, feel pain, fall. Before we didn’t, now we do.

Crossing a threshold can present us with limitless possibilities. Who knows what might happen? Anticipation, excitement, hope. Some thresholds upset our sense of balance, our inertia. Why me? Distraction, hopelessness, annoyance, frustration, fatigue, rage  Crossing a threshold can energize or suck energy, depending on the moment and perspective.

A pivotal moment for me as a nurse was discovering the opportunities I had to experience some of these threshold crossings, moments of imbalance, with others. Having a companion or a guide at these moments can be huge. A smile, a touch, information, can change the trajectory of that crossing, speed the regaining of balance, add energy, provide relief, increase hope. My mission became: to increase the sense of balance patients, caregivers, and clinicians feel as they work together towards best health.

Threshold crossings occur around us constantly. Consider being a companion, a guide when you notice someone approaching a threshold. You can make a difference in the crossing.

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

The Minute Before and the Minute After

A new threshold – laid off

Guests on People’s Health Journeys


Danny van Leeuwen

Danny van Leeuwen

Patient/Caregiver activist: learn on the journey toward best health

One Comment

  • Susan Spivack says:

    Oh so perfect Danny. Thank you! I once heard Thich Nhat Hanh talking about how as a novice, his teacher taught him how to be present as he opened and closed doors as he entered and exited rooms. It was an important opportunity for mindfulness. Then when I began to do Jewish ritual practices, I recognized the mezzuzah at the doorway to our house as a mindfulness practice. An opportunity to mark crossing the threshhold with a Jewish blessing, I say the words Sh’ma (listen), V’Ahava (love), Shalom (Peace/Wholeness) and kiss my fingers and touch the mezzuzah. What those words contain for me has morphed over time. Just today I’d say it’s fixing my intention so I enter this space with an open heart, so I may listen and recognize the opportunities for love and peace available here. For years I’ve very intermittently honored passing through the doorways of my house, my car, and even going from one room of my house to the others. Today I paid it special attention–how serendipitous!
    Happy and peaceful holidays to you and yours.

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