I grew up in the city of Belfast. The original settlement was close to the convergence of the River Lagan and its tributaries. The silt from these rivers created a sandbar which became known locally as The Crossing Place. The name of Belfast in Gaelic Beal Feirsde literally means the mouth of, or approach to, the sandbank or crossing place.
It is the nature of the soul to bring us to many crossing places in life. There we are invited to leave behind the security of outmoded ways of being and take the risk of growing. Native American spirituality has a lovely way of explaining this. In their culture the Great Eagle symbolizes the Soul or Higher self. When we are born they say, Great Eagle falls into a deep sleep and dreams that he is awake. At a significant time in our individual life, often but not always at midlife, the Eagle within stirs awake and begins to take control, reminding us who we are and why we live.
It is then that the person finds her/himself at the edge of a boundary, at a crossing place between what is and what still can be. The challenge at this time is to open ourselves to this voice of the soul and follow its call. This is not an easy task. Many refuse to step out of what is familiar and leap with trust into the void of the unknown. We need strength, courage and support to take that first step, for we will encounter the guardian who stands sentinel at the crossing place and whispers seductively, “Go back! Go back! It’s not safe!”
Even if we hearken to this siren voice and turn aside from taking the journey of becoming, the Eagle’s cry will persist within us in many forms until we hear it. For in the mature years of our growing, the Eagle’s wings will beat persistently upon our hearts until it is cleft open and we learn to stand more honestly in relation to ourselves, our world and the unseen world of the Transcendent.