One of the more engaging deities in the Roman pantheon was Janus. He was god of many things, primarily “beginnings” and “endings.” Depicted with two faces, he eternally gazed both backwards and forwards, reflecting on the past, envisioning the future. He was the patron of transitional portals – gates, doorways, passages.
We are always in the midst of life and death, openings and closings, hellos and goodbyes. As a pastor, there were times when I performed a holy trifecta: a baptism, a wedding, a funeral – all within 24 hours. The only word to describe it is “poignant.”
My parents got married on New Year’s Eve, 1950. On each anniversary, they share a practice. They review the previous year, celebrating successes, gleaning lessons from mistakes. Then they look ahead, dreaming new dreams, shaping a common vision. Finally, they share a prayer, another drink, and watch the televised ball drop on Times Square. This year, God willing, they will engage in this ritual for the 65th time.
The real lesson of this rite came in these words from my father. They caught me off guard, spoken by a man I had often viewed as preoccupied and absent.
“Our anniversary seems timeless, Krin. There will always be the past and there will always be the future. But standing firmly on the threshold is where life really happens. This is the moment we have.”
Is there a relationship you recently said goodbye to? Have you made a job transition or retired? Did you just graduate? Did you lose a loved one, that emptiness so painful in your heart?
Conversely, was there a birth in your family? Did you move to a new locale? Have you started a new business? Have you begun a new regimen to increase your health or spiritual wellbeing?
The mantra again…We are always in the midst of life and death, openings and closings, hellos and goodbyes. Imagine it this way: standing firmly on the threshold, one hand letting go of what has been, the other receiving what is to come. Take a deep, life-giving breath full of both release and anticipation.
Author C. JoyBell C. captures this sense of anticipation. “This is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!”
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…