Living at the Threshold between Worlds

Evening has arrived early, padding stealthily down the mountain on soft cat’s paws. Though it is only afternoon, daylight fades beneath misty ribbons of cloud that wrap around this little cottage and weave beguilingly through the surrounding green lattice of leafy trees. Looking out through broad windows and sliding glass doors, my verdant world is transformed under a spell of enchantment. It is as if ancestors and ghosts hover near, conversing with elementals of earth, wood, air, and blossom, whispering to my soul in unheard voices.

As is so often the case in my life, I am at the threshold between worlds.

mistsFor a few more weeks, we dwell on the upper slopes of windward Haleakalā, an elemental world of swirling weather and other-than-human forces. The old Hawaiians considered these cloud forests of the mountain to be the realm of spirits and voices in the trees, a place where humans should tread lightly. Living here for a year, I am not one to disagree.

On this quiet afternoon, I suspect the faerie mists will soon morph to a soft rain, ten-thousand invisible fingers tapping a steady cadence on the battered drum of the cabin roof.

Even the honey bees are hushed today, a collective reflection of the trailing mists and spirit forces that enfold us, and the bees’ quietude reflects my own subdued inner mood. It is as if we all are humming in soft resonance together: mountain, mists, spirits, bees and man. Inseparable and interwoven in a gentle, delicate harmony or low chant from ages lost in memory. At the end of this week, the bees go to their new home as I begin preparations for our move to the busy island of O’ahu, a relocation that mandates leaving my dear ‘girls’ behind on Maui. They will have an ideal location in a beautiful, healing garden of upper Olinda, but how I will miss these remarkable, golden-winged alchemists of nature.

I originally sat down to write about the honeybees but, as the foggy mists descended, found myself following a different, glimmering thread … crossing a threshold between worlds. 

That’s an apt description of my life, I’d say. A preferred address. Considering my current dwelling (and previous ones), it’s no surprise that I’d be drawn to the cloud forest of this Pacific mountain, the realm of spirits and elementals. At the edge of the forest or village is always where the shamans, witches, sages and healers dwelt. Madmen and undesirables, too. Often it’s a fine (and arbitrary) line between such distinctions, one that is easily blurred.

Nowadays, it is mostly the Soul Artists—a beautifully diverse array of writers, poets, artists, guides, dreamers, mystics, ‘evolutionaries’ and inspired souls—who choose to dwell at the edge. Evolution always happens first at the fringes, and the ‘edge dwellers’ are the ones deeply attuned to the environment in which we breathe, grow, make love, and dream. We are the ones who realize that Earth is awake, a sentient being of which we are a creative part. We are the ones who choose to dive headfirst into the dark, mysterious waters of life as our souls expand in harmony, gratitude, wonder and awe. Whatever label we choose or are given, we will always be the ones tending the hearth at the threshold between worlds, whether literal or metaphorical.

Despite Western society’s deeply ingrained agnostic impulse—a disbelief in invisibles—the living, mythic world is still as alive as it was in the time of Ulysses. Archetypes still emerge in every form and being. Intelligence, awareness and creativity are each inherent in any self-organizing system, while the line between living and non-living grows ever thinner. We have only to shift our perspective a bit, to open our senses and discover another realm of reality that slips in sideways at the peripheral edge of vision. Apart from night dreams, for most individuals it will nearly always be in ‘nature’ or semi-wild places that we will discover that hidden dimension… waiting for us.

The threshold between worlds is the place where the dream and dreamer meet.

I admit, I’m hesitant about our impending move to Hawaii Kai near Honolulu, to a cookie cutter house at the top of a manicured subdivision. Its location, design, and materials all feel mismatched to a wild, elemental soul. It’s a somewhat odd and unlikely residence for someone who walks with a foot in two different worlds—an edgewalkerbut I also trust in the curious process that has brought this about. Though the currents of fate remain unfathomable, I have faith in my bones regarding their mysterious guidance. And I sense too that just as with other times of sailing forward to new shores, the first place we alight is merely a landing spot.

From there, in a year or two, we will be drawn effortlessly to the ‘right’ spot that is calling, waiting for us to come home and deepen into conscious relationship with house, sky, water, plants, soil… and soul.

Yes, it will be just like that… it always is for me. In the meantime, good things will happen in an unlikely house, and I will turn all my powers towards fashioning yet another Soul Artist sanctuary. We need not live on a mountainside to encounter the sacred and mythic, nor to live in a deliberate, heartfelt manner; we can greet the Holy each morning simply by stepping barefoot into our garden or yard. Or blessing the potted flowers on our doorstep. Grow where you’re planted.

I have written elsewhere that “our senses are the threshold where we engage the world around us, where we stand in relation to the Sacred Other.” Wherever we may be, whether in Seattle or Santiago, we are always at the threshold of awareness. When we begin to pay attention, to expand our breath and bodily awareness, we trigger a shift in perception. A doorway opens, inviting us into a deeper relationship with life, its overlapping realities and mythic dimensions. An everyday sort of magic occurs and enfolds us, an incantation wordlessly uttered simply through the feat of paying attention.

Here in a darkening cottage, the cloud has swallowed us as the mountain’s breath and spirits are made visible once more. The familiar, whispering trees, the Standing Ones so close at hand, have withdrawn to become silent grey shapes in the shifting mists. A velvet silence lies thickly upon everything, inviting me to listen with my whole body, senses open wide, to the unheard song.

All of Creation is singing, and we are the only ones not paying attention.

At the threshold between worlds, I am listening, expansive in body and breath. Awake. Carrying a silk-wrapped bundle of luminous words and wild blessings to offer other pilgrims and wayfarers I meet, my vessel of bodysoul sails ever forward into deep blue waters of soul and mystery, a single word painted around the prow… or across my chest: