ISRAELI GROUND INVASION MAY BE IMMINENT is the headline this morning. Whatever side you're on, the conflict comes from drawing a line on common ground. The line is made of belief. It is reinforced with steel weapons. The dividing line separating Israel from Gaza enacts a primal paradox—hope of safety coupled with fear of attack.
Each of us engages thus duality when we divide the people that appear to be like us from those that appear to be different. We draw lines between our "good" political party and their "bad" party. We divide the "true" religion from the "false." The heart asks, "Why can't we get along?" The mind warns, "Threats are everywhere!" We believe peace would come if others were more like us. We usually don't consider that other people are more like us than we want to admit.
I have no idea how Israelis and Palestinians can resolve their differences. But dwelling here now involves facing the paradox of thresholds. For my body to be healthy, my front door must separate the cold rain tapping on the outside from the warm air filling the inside. My body also needs water to come inside for bathing and cooking. Then the water needs to return outside, carrying away wastes.
Thresholds for shelter clearly separate inner from outer. Thresholds for architecture are another matter. They open to dimensions beyond the physical. An architectural threshold is at once "safe" and "inviting." It defines both my place in the world and my access to the world. A threshold is worn and scuffed by the countless feet that traveled across it in the past. Those same markings shine with the call to enter the unknown possibilities of the future. Thresholds pull me from sleepy patterns of isolation into fluid geometries of connection. The threshold at my front door reminds me that a simple structure designed to separate inside from outside also points toward connections that defy easy categorization.
As I cross the threshold into this new year, I'll be looking for ways to honor my distinct identity while discovering common ground that nourishes us all.