Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Living in Liminal Space

Since leaving my position in March I have been in an in-between or liminal space.  Liminal comes from the Latin word limen which means threshold and it is defined as of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : in-between, transitional (from Websters).  This of course makes perfect sense yet it is not an easy place to be. In fact, Richard Rohr in his book, which I am currently reading, Everything Belongs, states that most of us will do anything to get out of liminal space as quickly as possible.

At first I embraced this liminal space, looking forward to having time to delve inward and embark on new possibilities.  As it has gone on, I more and more long to be out of this space and into what is next.  It is frustrating to say the least.

I have taken three conversation partners with me into this liminal space.  Richard Rohr is the most recent partner and the other two are Nancy Bieber, author of Decision Making and Spiritual Discernment and Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak.  They are great partners.  They echo and support each other.  They let me know that there is no rushing the authentic self, that this liminal space will continue until the authentic self is allowed to come forth. All offer ways to invite and embrace the journey.

I have struggled in this space as things around me seem to keep moving on.  The interim will start in my old position in just a couple of weeks.  Another person I know just started a new job.  Others have recently left their jobs to enter into this world of liminal space.  I seem somehow stuck here despite my initial embrace of the journey.

Most recently I have struggled to keep up with this blog, feeling like I wasn't sure what to say next.  My job search has felt stalled as it does not seem that my efforts are producing much result.  In the midst of all this holding onto faith and hope are a struggle.

Recently I was on a Georgetown Alumni webinar with Rev. Kevin O'Brien, Vice President of Mission and Ministry at Georgetown.  He talked about hope as "everything may not turn out alright but it is ok because God, the Holy, is with us anyway."  This is hard to hear - I want an assurance that things will turn out alright and by that I mean alright by my definition, financial security, work that I love and that I am good at, sooner rather than later.  Also with my family's financial well being counting on me there is another level of worry.  We are truly not promised that things will turn out the way we hope, just that through it all we are not alone, that in the ultimate sense, "All will be well" (Julian of Norwich).  This kind of hope is the one that sustains justice movements, kept people building cathedrals that they would never see complete.  It is hope not bounded in space and in time.

Parker Palmer reminds me that our job is "to ride the monsters all the way down" to the place where we can truly learn to care for one another, the place of community, a place where we live knowing ourselves - for good and for ill.  Have I ridden the monsters all the way down?

Nancy Bieber makes a distinction that I have written about previously - about willingness versus willfulness.  Am I truly open and willing to go where I am called?  Am I truly opening myself to the will of the holy?

I don't have clear answers.  Clearly since I am still here, there is something it still needs to teach me, something I need to learn.

Are you in a liminal space?  What keeps you going?  Who are your conversation partners?