Paul's Passing Thoughts

Over the Threshold

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 30, 2017

ppt-jpeg4We will call her “Jane.” While caring for her, I knew little about her other than she was formally a business executive for many years at a large manufacturing company. Her pictureless room revealed little other than various candies she once enjoyed. Memory loss conditions progressively touch every avenue of life; the who, the what, the how, and the why. Eventually, the miraculous involuntary functions of our body that have a mind of their own forget also.

Life responds to those who have lost almost everything; it will tend to take away what is left. This is a woman who knew and loved many, but I never saw them. Yet, we will not judge them, for they assume the person they once knew no longer knows them, and is a person they no longer know as well. The person they once knew and loved is gone. Perhaps. It is at least likely that these are a mystery shrouded by limitations of the physical and living in secrets only known to them and God. More than likely is the fact that such are revered by God, and serving them according to what might be will yield great reward. Here, motives do count with a God of love as in many other areas of life; true love will cover every bet.

Last week, Jane forgot how to swallow, and on her final day a nurse remarked, “she died in peace.” We can start there in documenting her unrecognized treasure. I wonder if everything that lives is teaching us in some way if we will only listen. If only we will pause to ponder. In caring for her I missed this completely, unlike myself, she was always at peace.

In reality, Jane, and many like her, teach vast and deep things that should constantly remind us of things we forget. Those we pity due to memory loss are constantly reminding us of what our pitiful behavior willfully forgets. When we look at them and receive the message, we walk away and forget as one who uses the mirror at the beginning of the day. Perhaps it is ok to forget what we saw in ourselves after we shave, put on makeup, or comb our hair, but forgetting what we see in them is ill advised. We would look better in the mirror if we would practice what they teach. Is this why we neglect their company? Are they our judges?

Jane did not have a life that she lost, Jane had a different life. It was a life that asked many questions about her previous life; a life, like all lives, limited by time. Every time we encounter the Janes of the world we are forced to ask ourselves what we are doing with the present life we have. How are we utilizing our time? What are we thinking about? How are we thinking? Don’t look in the mirror too long, the indictment is unbearable. In fact, we can’t even remember what we were worried about yesterday, yet, the mere personality quirks of others are indelibly burned upon our minds. Many of us have excellent memories about everything that is wrong with the world and suffer memory loss in regard to what is right about the world and others. Memory is often relative to virtue; who are we to judge the Janes of the world? Is our pity towards Jane really arrogance?

Yet, not only do these lives speak to us deeply with a need for lengthy investment because of our chronic forgetfulness, their own lives possess unique elements. The challenge with Jane was getting her to eat. That was a centerpiece of our relationship. She still liked sweets, and adding a little oatmeal to her sugar often worked. She was good at letting the nurses feed her medication in applesauce, so I could fool her if I used a plastic spoon, well, for a couple of bits anyway.

But towards the end of the shift was the highlight of our routine. Hardly anything but skin and bones, I was able to lift her out of her wheelchair and gently lay her in bed which usually resulted in a rare smile. We can only surmise why she smiled as only her and God know, but Susan thinks it invoked a memory of when youthful zeal ruled over life, perhaps being carried over the threshold of a new home or some other event. At any rate, in this case, smiles are always good.

Tradition holds that being carried over a threshold showed a bride’s reluctance to leave a father’s home, or prevented evil spirits from entering the feet of a woman upon entering a new home. If you have listened to any of Susan’s lectures from TANC 2016, you understand these kinds of traditions flowing from church teachings regarding the supposed inherent evil of women. In other cultures, the threshold is a point of greeting before entering someone’s home; all greetings occur at the threshold.

On that day one of three are correct. Jane was carried over the threshold in a joyful leaving of this world to her father’s house, and there was certainly no concern about evil spirits entering her feet. But indeed, there was a greeting at the threshold that our minds can only imagine; another mystery known only by her and a heavenly host.

Her two lives and missions being complete, and uncompensated for her ministry in this world unlike many who call themselves teachers, she was carried over the threshold to eternity, her memory perfectly healed, and now only has one dread…

…that our tainted memories will forget her teachings.


One Response

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  1. John said, on November 30, 2017 at 12:12 PM

    Thanks for sharing. Your genuine care/love for “Jane” shines through the paragraphs.


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