We need to move beyond the competitive to the collaborative and the contemplative. [If you don’t think you are competitive, take this simple test: when one of your peers is praised for doing something you like to do and think you are good at, how do you respond? Or, when you are criticized by a peer for doing something you like to do and think you are good at, how do you respond? Mmmmm. I thought so.]

Collaborative and contemplative disciplines have amazing abilities to help us during threshold times. They give us the time and space to:

  • suspend previous assumptions in order to open to the new
  • slow down in order to bring others into our space and to in order to listen to our emotions and our bodies
  • reflect on what’s really important and to reflect on the secret things that lie underneath the surface of our activities

I would like to share with you 5 contemplative and collaborative disciplines that help me stay in threshold times for the duration it takes me to learn from them: learning from new guides, building relational equity, detachment and discernment, the dark night, and expanding theology.

COLLABORATIVE DISCIPLINES: Learning From New Guides, Building Relational Equity

Learning from New Guides. Paul in his letter to the Galatians observes that Israel at one time had the law as its guardian (tutor). The law did what it was supposed to do: show Israel that they could not keep the law, paving the way for what only grace, dispensed through the Holy Spirit, could do, the transformation of hearts. The Law as Guardian guided Israel to the second stage, the grace stage, that would now be guided by the Holy Spirit. In a similar fashion, when we are poised to move into something new or different, we will need different mentors or guides.

In threshold times we open ourselves to new guides. We got to where we are by current guides, now we need those who will take us around the unseen bend. They are our mentors at the edges. They enrich the soil of our understanding and fertilize it with seeds for new fruit. Who are these guides? One way to find out is to ask yourself, “What is the one thing that keeps coming to me about my life and does this possible mentor have the integrity and authority to speak to it?”

For one year, I walked with Ignatius of Loyola. His 30 day spiritual exercises turned into a year, as I suspended current assumptions, slowed down to go deep, and reflected on the strange threshold in which I found myself. I turned to him precisely because I needed discernment, and he was the one who could stretch my thinking and teach me. I read his autobiography, biographies about him, practiced regularly the prayer of examen (a form of prayer popularized by Ignatius; explained later in this paper), and read books devoted to his teaching and form of spirituality.

As I write this, I am again in a threshold time. This time my mentor is Therese of Lisieux, a 19th century nun, who lived out her creedo of “the little way.” Her dramatic emotional flair