Tuesday, 15 January 2019
Friends and Families of USP,
Happy New Year! We hope that your time has been marked with rest and presence with those you love, and we are very happy to announce that our new Spring 2019 cohort has been on the ground in Uganda a few weeks now and are finding their "sea legs" quickly!
Today, I'd like to take a minute to talk about thresholds. These moments of time where we find ourselves briefly within two important seasons, not yet fully exited from previous one but also entering another, and where we find ourselves frozen for a moment. Not fully in either place. Armed with the perspective and time to try to answer the questions of where we've come from and where we're going. The threshold metaphor is part of the language that we use to talk about the experience of USP. During debrief, our director begins one of our processing sessions with the following quote:
"A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or a stage of life that it intensified toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up.
At this threshold a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, sadness, hope. This is one reason why such vital crossings were always clothed in ritual. It is wise in your own life to be able to recognize and acknowledge the key thresholds: to take your time, to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there, to listen inwards with complete attention until you hear the inner voice calling you forward.
The time has come to cross."
// John O'Donohue
In our fast-paced American culture, it can be all too easy to wrap up important seasons in our lives and jump into the next one with all our strength immediately. We forcibly shorten these thresholds and ignore them into nonexistence, hopeful that if we just never stop moving, we'll never have to face the emotions that come from the loss of these closing chapters. But embracing thresholds and taking the time to just *be* is a huge lesson that many of us learn during our time in Uganda. Taking time to be fully aware of our lives as they happen to us is a new experience for many of us as we come to Uganda, and an incredibly important piece of the fabric of USP.
There are a few thresholds that are built in to our time at USP, where we carve out time between the end of one thing and the beginning of something else in order to take inventory of our hearts and center ourselves before moving forward. We have a few days set aside after we return from Rwanda and Rural Homestays in order to rest and reflect, and the culmination of our entire semester is almost five days in Entebbe answering the questions of "what just happened to me?" and "what now?" and enjoying the love and community of a group of people who came as strangers but are leaving as family.
And finally, we are experiencing a new sort of threshold in USP right now: the threshold of firsts. Students are spending their first nights with their host families, and going to their practicums for the first time, and are making their first forays into Mukono town for markets, great food, and swimming with host siblings. All these things that feel so unfamiliar and overwhelming right now, but students are engaging all the same.
I think we can all feel it, when we're on the edge of something big. This threshold we're in right now is one of new beginnings, and we're so very excited to see what happens next.
This is Louise, signing off for the year. Thanks for reading :)
Stay tuned for some new developments from PA Jessica Mount.