While traveling by train in England, the words, “mind the gap” could be heard over the loudspeaker. It was a warning to me and to the other riders to be careful stepping over the open space between train and platform. Being aware of the gap allowed me to move safely on and off the train.
This transition or crossing over to another space was challenging, especially when I was carrying luggage and rushing in with the flood of people during peak riding times. Yet, transition, I must, to get to my destination. So, as the voice shared, I minded the gap and transitioned safely.
The liminal space, or the transition from one stretch to another, is not limited to train platforms. Liminal spaces exist in many different areas and times of life. In fact, I have found myself residing in a liminal space between the life I knew before my husband’s death, and the life I am experiencing after. I have come to realize this liminal time is set aside to grieve, learn, grow, explore, and struggle with what once was, while anticipating what could possibly be.
In the first months residing in my new liminal home, I found myself stuck. Unable to move forward with daily tasks. Lacking the vision to see a future that could ever have meaning. Void of any sort of clarity for the life beyond the stark reality of my husband’s death, and my current life alone. Yet after many, many months, numerous days reduced to tears, it seemed the filter of sorrow began to clear.
Discovery and clarity eventually began to emerge in the liminal space. The possibility of a future began to bubble below the surface, and slowly worked its way upward. What materialized were glimpses of what could be. The wisdom to manage the budget and financial responsibilities. The strength to take on home repairs once not part of my wheelhouse. Life with a new partner to do the day to day things. Even laughter became a regular resident amid my days in liminality.
Don’t get me wrong. There were many times when fear threatened to halt my progress. Where ignorance knocked me off the prescribed path. When I lost my focus and reverted to the earlier ways of coping: Sleepless nights binge watching mindless TV; too many glasses of wine before bed; melting down when I felt slighted by family or friends. In those times I tried to lean into the Creator for guidance and support. And don’t think I did this all the time. On the contrary, I found myself trying to go it alone far too frequently, and failing miserably.
It became essential for me to reach out to God for guidance and direction through the liminal space in which I found myself. I leaned heavily on Christ, being reminded often that, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) This sustained me through the liminal time that appeared to lack any sort of conclusion. The bible passage helped to connect me with the Creator, giving me an Anchor in the unsettling time. This Anchor still affords me space and time to explore life, and to begin to settle into the new reality that is emerging. The way forward beyond the liminal space is slowly coming into focus.
As I prepare to exit the liminal home where I have long been dwelling, into the life God has in store for me beyond my husband’s death, I realize there will be another liminal space that will present itself. My life, it seems, is always in transition; constantly moving from one phase to another. Author Brandon Robertson has this to say about this movement:
“In moments of transition, we are simply to BE. We are to pause and acknowledge that a
transition is taking place. Instead of seeking to abruptly pass through a threshold, we are to
tarry. A new reality is emerging, but we cannot see beyond the threshold. All we know is that
we exist in this moment, where everything is in transition.”
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
Where I work, there is a passageway that often seems deserted. The lighting is dim. People rarely walk that liminal space unless they are ducking from one doorway to another. It is unsettling in this hallway because of the vast emptiness there. It is not intended to be a place to linger. Yet because it is where one must go to get to another place, it is a necessary threshold to be moving through.
Like the tunnels of darkness that we all find ourselves in, the liminal space is a great time to call on the Holy One for comfort and guidance. It is a necessary place to linger in order to discern next steps. Fear not the liminal spaces in which you find yourself. Invite the Creator in, and lean on the peace the Creator provides. The time you may spend there is yet unknown, but it is manageable when you invite the One who wants to journey life with you.
Creator God, it seems I am always transitioning from one phase to the next. It is often unsettling, especially when I don’t know what lies beyond the threshold. Remind me to always lean into You for guidance and peace. And, if You would like, could You give a glimpse of what is coming next for me? I know You’re laughing at that request, but I just thought I’d ask. Thank You for always being there for me. Amen.
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