What Does It Mean to Be a People of Thresholds?

Stitching a New Garment for the Threshold We Must Cross

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones

It is a Monday morning just before May begins, this month when we will take up the theme “What does it mean to be a people of Thresholds?” My mind and heart are primed for guidance and direction as we prepare ourselves—for however long it takes—to cross the threshold, or thresholds, out of quarantine and into a new world. Who do we want to be, how do we want to act, and what kind of world will we help to create as a result of this pandemic?

The very first thing I read on that Monday morning is a post from a friend which begins, “Sonya Renee Taylor is the black, queer, author/activist who wrote The Body Is Not an Apology. We will not go back to normal.” Then my friend offers Taylor’s full quotation:

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”

Oh, my darlings … What would it be like to live in a world that is not dominated by “greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack”? How can our other human traits— kindness, generosity, solidarity, compassion, creativity, resilience, love, joy, humor, and interconnectedness—become the dominant forces in our world? Can we even imagine such a revolution?

How can we here at the First Unitarian Church of San José join with others to stitch a new garment made to fit all of humanity and the wider natural world?

Like many of us, I am still trying to find my way, trying to listen hard to those most impacted by both this virus and the “normal” that existed before its spread, in order to discern what we can specifically do now, next week, next month, and for the rest of our lives. Right now, today, I don’t know the answers to the questions that I’ve posed in the last two paragraphs.

Yet here’s what I do know: We are a creative, resilient, and caring congregation, humanly flawed yet always growing. Just by being who we are, we have a strength that we can dedicate to the creation of this new world. We humans must not go back to what was; we can’t continue with what is. Working side by side with others who share a vision of a better, more loving and compassionate world, we must piece together a new way. And we must sure that it embraces everyone and everything. It’s a large task, but we’re not alone, and we need only tackle one section of this garment at a time.

This month in our gatherings, we’ll name what we already have and what we still need in order to cross these thresholds with beauty, love, and dignity for all. It’s more important than ever that we join together. I look forward to what we will create!

With abundant love and fierce determination,
Rev. Nancy