Have you ever walked into a room to get something, only to wonder why you’re there? This is such a common psychological issue it’s been dubbed the ‘event boundary’.
Apparently, on a threshold, our minds are wired to forget the former things and focus on what’s to come. What seems like a minor irritation about memory is in fact a psychological manifestation of a spiritual condition. When we forget why we came into a room, we have a very strong indicator all is not well on the threshold into our calling.
In this episode I want to look at the three different kinds of thresholds that exist in the natural world. Recognising these types will enable us to identify threshold symbolism within Scripture.
These different kinds are:
First, a transition in space
Second, a transition in time
Third, a transition in state
The first type, the spatial transition, includes such crossing-over points as a last step or a first step, a stile on a boundary fence, the kerb at the edge of a road, a checkpoint at a frontier or a customs control area, the liminal zone on a shoreline, a gateway entrance or an exit door, a bridge that spans a river, the embankment of a stream where waves lap the margins, or a cliff where sky, sea and land meet.
The second kind of threshold relates to transitional times. These include sunrise or sunset; New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve—with all their wide cultural variations; midnight, since it marks a date change; the new moon, particularly in nations that adhere to a lunar calendar; even the appearance of the morning star or evening star. On a personal level, transitional times include birth, death, marriage, the start of a new job, the end of a long career, the beginning of a major project.
The third type of threshold involves transitional states. By states, I don’t mean the boundaries that delineate a smaller region within a nation—these fall into category of spatial transitions. Rather, I’m referring to changes in physical state such as the formation of snow crystals, the thawing of ice or the evaporation of water into steam. Besides melting or freezing, other transitions of state include subsonic to supersonic speed, the gravity-defying antics of helium supercooled to just below its boiling point, toxin exposure limits, and even germination or termination of a seed.
In the first episode, I spoke of my colleague who couldn’t bring himself to step onto the last rung of a diving tower. He instinctively recognised the danger of a transition in space. The danger of a transition in time is epitomised by the issue of driving at dusk straight towards the sun. And the danger of a transition in state is characterised by the break-up of ice on a skating pond.
These natural transitions testify to a spiritual principle: we should approach the threshold into our calling with the utmost caution.
Thank you to Lorna Skinner of www.riversofmusic.co.uk for the background music.