It was my pleasure to recently take an extended motorcycle trip through the western and southwestern United States, particularly Colorado and Utah. The natural landscapes suggest all manner of threshold, passage and transition.
The natural arch is created from the erosion of a wall. A small opening appears and then grows until it becomes a doorway. Ironically, the same forces that created the arch will spell its demise; someday the upper lip will collapse. For the present, in a moment of opportunity, we may pass heart, mind and soul through the opening into the reality on the other side. Is it a physical passage? Emotional? Spiritual? All?
The high mountain pass takes us up and over the top of the world, through peaks in a way between. Early explorers always found the passes between mountains to avoid treacherous travel. And yet, the passes themselves can be difficult. What are the ways in which we seek passes but find their pathways difficult? Is a pass a negative space between two formations? Does it allow for movement, transition, and indeed, passage?
The canyon has been carved mostly by rivers that, over the course of millions of years, dig their way deeper and deeper leaving the evidence of time in their continual motion. People follow rivers, traverse canyons, run roads through canyon and alongside river. This is a prescribed path – the way of the river, the walls alongside its movement, boundary and opening, structure and freedom. We luxuriate in the design of the canyon. We anticipate where it will take us.
Arch, pass, canyon: The liminal symbols of threshold and passage, structure and the way beyond structure.