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On The Threshold: Home, Hardwood, and Holiness

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  28 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Elizabeth Andrew writes as an act of connecting to her surroundings both geographically and spiritually. Capturing the land of her childhood backyard--the Hudson river valley and her spiritual home and new house in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she leads the reader on the quest to feel at home with one's self and one's beliefs. With this common and pressing goal, Andrew frames ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Basic Books
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Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it
The book is a series of reflective essays, many centered on small moments at her home in South Minneapolis: encounters with neighbors, fixing windows or doors, waking up in various moods, remembering her childhood home. Some are about her spiritual journey: periods of depression and despair, her little church with its strengths and weaknesses; moments of insight and closeness to God and the holy. One of the last essays is about how her lover Emily came into her life, tying in years of therapy to ...more
Jul 01, 2009 rated it liked it
A small masterpiece, actually! The PW review notes, "Adroitly weaving story, description, and reflection, these introspective essays will appeal to those who savor language and recognize the sacred at the heart of everyday experience." What gets me the lack of ego present in the essays. Even though it's about her, it's not about her imagined self or just the glorious bits, and the author never sounds whiny, self-pitying, or self-satisfied. Andrews writes WELL, really conveying her simple ...more
Patricia Smith
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed the collection of essays (disclosure: I took a workshop with Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew in Key West and highly recommend her as a teacher too) gathered together in ON THE THRESHOLD. The writing here is everything I love about nonfiction -- personal yet transcendent, taking us beyond the author's singular experiences to larger truths. Most of the essays deal with the ideas of creating home and community and more specifically, creating home and community as spiritual practice. ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-read
This memoir is written in short chapters the sometimes connect theme-wise and sometimes jump around. What I noticed was that there were chapters that I really enjoyed and others that didn't connect with me much. It is a series of thoughts on nature, creating a home and finding your faith and community. Was I glad I read it? Yes. Was I ready to wrap it up at the end? Yes. I wish that there had been a more continuous thread throughout the book, maybe that would have kept me better engaged.
Elizabeth Andrew is a good writer. I enjoyed many of these essays because the thoughts of home, nature, religion resonated with me. I did find the book somewhat disjointed. I think it is better read a bit at a time rather than all in one sitting. I am impressed that Andrew was willing to share her thoughts about her love life. I would have had trouble being that honest.

I am looking forward to Andrew's next book. I bet it will be even better.
Dec 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Local Minneapolis writer and writing instructor at the Loft, where I took a class by her and now am enjoying her writing!
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Some of the essays I read with mild interest. Some I scanned due to little interest. Some I skipped altogether due to lack of interest.
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Hello, fellow readers! I'm using Goodreads to track my reading, to find like-minded book-lovers who want to share titles, and to connect with readers of my books. Feel free to follow my reviews or become a virtual friend.

As a writer, I'm passionate about creating stories that nourish the soul. I love exploring how faith functions, both inside and outside of religious traditions, and depicting the
“When you enter the woods of a fairy tale and it is night, the trees tower on either side of the path. They loom large because everything in the world of fairy tales is blown out of proportion. If the owl shouts, the otherwise deathly silence magnifies its call. The tasks you are given to do (by the witch, by the stepmother, by the wise old woman) are insurmountable - pull a single hair from the crescent moon bear's throat; separate a bowl's worth of poppy seeds from a pile of dirt. The forest seems endless. But when you do reach the daylight, triumphantly carrying the particular hair or having outwitted the wolf; when the owl is once again a shy bird and the trees only a lush canopy filtering the sun, the world is forever changed for your having seen it otherwise. From now on, when you come upon darkness, you'll know it has dimension. You'll know how closely poppy seeds and dirt resemble each other. The forest will be just another story that has absorbed you, taken you through its paces, and cast you out again to your home with its rattling windows and empty refrigerator - to your meager livelihood, which demands, inevitably, that you write about it.” 9 likes
“I'm not particularly in favor of doctrine or creed, ordination, the elevation of holy texts, the institution of church, or, for that matter, Christianity. Like most religions, it has irreconcilable shortcomings and an unforgivable history. What I do favor is the attempt to make sense of things by living within a story. The Christian story, for good or ill, is my inheritance.” 8 likes
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