“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned to accept the life that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell
We’re living in a “liminal time”— a moment on the threshold. The familiar is missing, their replacements not yet fully formed. We’re suspended between the year just passed and the one just beginning, between decades, flanked by the pre- and post-COVID eras, between old and new ways of living, thinking and connecting. With awareness, equanimity, and compassion, we are standing in Warrior I (hero/friend) pose, assessing so many thresholds all at once, with trepidation and fear, curiosity, and hope. What does “going forward” look like? In what ways can we sit in the “not-knowing”? How can we make space for something new?
The word liminal comes from the Latin word limens, which means “limit or threshold.” Author and theologian Richard Rohr defines liminal time in this way: “It is when you have left, or are about to leave, the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run…anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing.”
I am learning to embrace the not-knowing. The not being so sure that there is no room to see something new. It takes practice and I have certainly not perfected it – yet.
Visualize the in between space and time: you are an acrobat having to let go of one swinging trapeze, hurtling across space in between trapeze bars hoping to grasp the other bar swinging your way. Where are you? Clinging to the old ways, the first bar? Do you have the strength to let go of fear and uncertainty? Are you flying through the air, open to new possibilities? Are you reaching toward the bar coming toward you feeling afraid and courageous at the very same time?
We may choose to avoid making a transition, resisting with everything we’ve got in us – clinging to the trapeze handle as if we’re in control, holding on to what is no longer serving us; postponing our self-care, repeating the negative stories we’ve made up about ourselves, Velcro-ed to old anger and resentment.
What if instead of trying to get through the transition as quickly as possible, rushing so we can be comfortable and sane once again, then maybe we can pause?
Clinging or fleeing: That would be a mistake.
Because Liminal Space is where the magic happens.
Fr. Richard Rohr write, “The very vulnerability and openness of liminal space allows room for something genuinely new to happen. We are empty and receptive—erased tablets waiting for new words. Liminal space is where we are most teachable, often because we are most humbled.”
Wow. Infinite possibilities!
I take comfort in the literature showing that resilient folks have 2 things in common: community and spirituality. Not spirituality in the religious sense but as Brené Brown defines it: “a deeply held belief that we are inextricably connected to each other by something greater than us.”
We typically experience liminal time alone; loss of health, a loved one, a home. In this instance, we are experiencing this moment collectively. We have each other.
As we step into 2022, allow me to offer this intention as a community?
“I intend to give and receive love.”
As we begin again, I can say without hesitation that I have been guided toward a deeper gratefulness. It is gratitude that can heal, soften, and open our hearts.
If you forget how much you are loved, take in a breath, and remember again.
Thank you for your loving kindness.