Saturday, 11 March 2017

Thresholds, home and birthdays

Whenever I come home from school, there is this remarkable sensation as I unlock the door and cross the threshold. I've tried to analyse it. What is it about home that's so special? It's more than a retreat, a haven, a burrowing away from the world although of course it's these things too. But somehow, for me, from the click of the latch unfolds a Pavlovian moment, a shedding of something - a kind of artifice|? An outer skin perhaps. And...breathe.

This could be because I confessed to a friend some years ago that I found it really hard to switch off after school. I was in a job that was making me stressed and unhappy at the time, and I found I was thinking about it all evening, all weekend and at every toilet-stop in the night. She recommended the 'threshold thing.' The threshold of your own home is your boundary, the work/home one. When you cross it, you leave the work-you behind and embrace the home-you (relaxed, playful, dreamy) and you make sure you stick to her like glue until work-time again. I have to admit, although I was sceptical and have had my moments, I've largely embraced the threshold thing. I am now in a job where I'm happy but am still tempted to dwell on it when I should be resting, and this helps.

I was wondering how this would apply to our writing-selves. Two days a week I work from home, a desk in the corner of my bedroom. Its quite a homely little area near the window, with shelves, a leather chair and an old tin full of pens and things. I usually write in the mornings, after which I try to walk out somewhere or, if it's raining, do housework. When I close the computer down, and walk or hoover, I'm still thinking about my writing - that's when I have my best ideas, when my mind is skating across the ocean of possibilities like a hungry bird. Yet, I do see that there's a time to switch off, to lay it down and let the mind rest to refuel the creative energy. Not sure how the threshold thing works there...

Today is my birthday. I'm not going to tell you how old I am but I'm exactly in the middle of my fifties. This seems to me quite a thing, and I confess to finding the ageing thing a bit hard. It could be because my knees ache a bit and my skin looks like someone else's. Or it could be that my rather slack body and thinning hair doesn't attract the same attention it used to. Forgive me - that sounds terribly shallow. I don't mean I used to be the belle of the ball or anything - just that, you know when you're young, people sort of look at you in an appraising way. Not men, everyone (youth is a beautiful thing). But when you're older, you notice the growing absence of looks as though you're gradually becoming invisible. Yet for me, however old I am, I still love my birthday.

The Message version of Isaiah 46:4, is beautiful: -
"I've been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, And I'll keep on carrying you when you're old. I'll be there bearing you when you're old and grey. I've done it and will keep on doing it, carrying you on my back, saving you."

When I worried all the way to school that those girls would bully me, when I felt like a fish out of water at university, when I fell off my bike on the way to my first teaching job. When I got married and had the children. While we travelled together. That time a troubled child stabbed me with a pair of scissors. When I had my first article published. While my husband was having open heart surgery. When I've had a stressed and busy day. He carries me. And he carries you too.

The final home-coming will be the biggest birthday of all. The day we are born to our heavenly home. We will step over the threshold and shed our worldly skin. The artifice with which we've long travelled. And it will the happiest death birth-day ever.

P.S. Please forgive this rather pensive post which was written earlier in the week. Later, I was greatly cheered by a child in my class who told me he thought I was 'about thirty, or a bit more'. The eyes of a child are perhaps the most forgiving of all :)

Please click on the link to see the novella on Amazon
Deborah Jenkins is a primary school teacher and freelance writer who has written articles, text books, devotional notes and short stories. She has completed a novella, The Evenness of Things, available as an Amazon e-book and is currently working on a full length novel. Deborah loves hats, trees and small children. After years overseas with her family, who are now grown up, she lives in south-west London with her husband, a Baptist minister, and a cat called Oliver. 


  1. A long-ago pupil with Down's, asked how old she thought I was, thought hard and long then said with a beaming smile,'88!' I was in my thirties at the time, so I can only conclude I've improved with the years. What a lovely thought that we shall at last shed our outer skin, and yet be unafraid. Thank you (and have a very happy birthday.)

  2. That's a great story. Children are so funny. Thank you Aggie! So far, I am 😀 x

  3. Lovely post, Deborah - I like that version of the Isaiah passage. It reminded me of all the times I've known God was carrying me, which I'm apt to forget far too quickly.

  4. Oh Deborah, I empathise with you on the subject of ageing. It's something that I am having to ask God to help me with ... to be kind to my older self now that I'm in my sixties. I love those verses from Isaiah. Hope you had a lovely birthday. Xx

  5. You and me both Agatha. Thank you for your lovely comment ☺️

  6. Pensive is good! A thoughtful post, as always. I think you will always attract people's attention, though. There's a glamour about you that won't fade.

  7. Ooh you can be my friend if you like ! ☺️ Thanks Fran x