A Time for Beginnings

Different depictions of Janus from Bernard de Montfaucon’s L’antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures

January is named in honor of the great god Janus: a uniquely Roman deity who had two faces that could look into the past and into the future. He was the god of doorways, transitions, beginnings and endings. Thus he would have been honored at the outbreak of war and at the settlement of peace.

Especially here colder parts of the Norther Hemisphere, January is a time to plan, to clean, to set forth intentions, and prepare for the New Year. This is still seen today in the custom of New Year’s Resolutions. But the task of setting off in a new direction is surprisingly complex and dangerous. This is a good time to honor those changes we wish to make but taking them seriously. A new diet, a new job, a new work-out plan, a new hobby, each of these requires to step either figuratively or literally through a door. We leave the comfort of the status quo for the excitement and work of a new experience. From safety do we step into the unknown.

Have you ever walked into a room on an errand and suddenly stopped, momentarily disoriented and unsure of your intentions? Forget why you walked into the dining room in the first place? This is the power of the threshold. This is the power of being in a liminal space and time: being a hotel room which is your home for only a night, waiting for test results from the blood sample, suspended in the air on a plane hurtling through the sky from terminal to terminal.

In each experience, we can then plan what we will do next. Where will travel once we check out? What steps will we take if the test results are positive? How will we navigate the airport and retrieve or luggage and get a ride to our destination?

My resolution in 2022 is to observe when the doors open up. I want to recognize that each threshold we cross can represent a change of fortune, or a change of fate. Decisions then to cross through these portals sacred to great Janus must be done with deliberation and care.

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