Years ago, when it was possible to camp near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, our family did just that. The moon was going to be full while we were there, and my mother and I wanted to see the Canyon by moonlight. Around 1:00 a.m., we left our sleeping bags and walked the hundred or so yards to the edge of the Canyon. The moon shone brilliant in a cloudless sky. But the Canyon was filled with fog, almost up to our feet. We could see nothing but a flat blue-gray.
The image has returned to me in these days when I reflect about what it means to stand on an edge, a threshold. Usually we think of a threshold as that few inches of space in a doorway, which we step over on our way out. But sometimes, in our inner life, we can only stand there. We’re in a doorway with scenery behind us and fog in front. Who knows how deep is the canyon beneath our feet? Or what the fog covers?
In such a time, we may recall how we got here, and we also know that it’s past, done. We may have wishes about what is before us, but sure knowledge we don’t have. And so we stand, carrying within what we have learned, knowing that we will move forward. But how? And when? We stand on the threshold, waiting, perhaps, for a sign or a feeling of readiness.
The unexpected thing about the thresholds of life is that there is always one step available to us, one thing we can see to do or to change. One step. So we are not stuck, though we may feel stuck. One step will take us forward. We can see no further. The ever-miraculous reality is that once we have taken the one step we can see, another step becomes visible. It too is on solid ground.
Meanwhile, we stand on the threshold, teetering a little perhaps. Wondering what will be opening ahead of us. I think in these uncertain moments, we can turn our eyes to the bright light of the full moon. We do stand in light, even though the path before us is foggy. In that light, we can take that one visible step. It’s always there.