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Crossing the Threshold

It's been a long time since I posted anyone else's poetry on this site... but I am reading two poetic reflections for advent at present: "Haphazard by Starlight" an anthology of other people's poetry by Janet Morley each morning, and Jan Richardson's "Through the Advent Door" each evening... 

The former book was one I have meant to buy and read for a couple of years - indeed it was the prompt for my own vlog of Advent poems during lockdown last year. I don't have time for that this year, but I do have time at least to read the book.

I read the latter book as an advent devotional last year (you can read my review here, but started it late and hurried through it, but it deserves a more leisurely consumption. I got to know Jan's work through our mutual links with St. Luke's UMC in Orlando Florida and got to meet her for dinner a few years ago through our friends, artists Chuck and Peg Hoffman (when I behaved like a star-struck fanboy). 

This week, as some of you know Sally and I got the keys for what we hope will (eventually) be our retirement home... and this poem of Jan's resonated for me as I crossed the threshold on Thursday. Whether stepping across the threshold of a new home, entering into advent or at any other point (because as one friend on facebook commented on the news of our new home "Every moment is a fresh beginning") I believe this piece has something to say:

First let us say
a blessing 
upon all who have 
entered here before 

You can see the sign 
of their passage 
by the worn place 
where their hand rested 
on the doorframe 
as they walked through, 
the smooth sill 
of the threshold 
where they crossed. 

Press your ear 
to the door 
for a moment before 
you enter 
and you will hear 
their voices murmuring 
words you cannot 
quite make out 
but know 
are full of welcome. 

On the other side 
these ones who wait— 
for you, 
if you do not 
know by now— 
understand what 
a blessing can do 

how it appears 
like nothing you expected 

how it arrives as 
outrageous invitation, 

how it takes the form 
of angel 
or dream; 

how it comes 
in words like 
How can this be? 
lifted up the lowly; 

how it sounds like 
in the wilderness 
prepare the way. 

Those who wait 
for you know 
how the mark of 
a true blessing 
is that it will take you 
where you did not 
think to go. 

Once through this door 
there will be more: 
more doors 
more blessings 
more who watch and 
wait for you 

but here 
at this door of 
the blessing cannot 
be said without you. 

So lay your palm 
against the frame 
that those before you 

place your feet 
where others paused 
in this entryway. 

Say the thing that 
you most need 
and the door will 
open wide. 

And by this word 
the door is blessed 
and by this word 
the blessing is begun 
from which 
door by door 
all the rest 
will come.
Jan Richardson 
“Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas” 
available to download at 


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