I was introduced to the term “liminal space” recently.
“Liminal” is derived from the Latin word “limen”, which means “threshold”. Liminal space is a place of transition, it can be in architecture and from one physical location to the other, such as long empty corridors, staircases, carparks or uninhabited areas in a building etc., and it can also be a state of being. The emotional or metaphorical liminal spaces are the transitions or changes, often major and uncertain in people’s life stages. It signifies the time between “what was” and “what’s next”. It is a time of waiting, feeling nervous, anxious, challenged, vulnerable, unsure, confused or even excited about something new and/or better that will take place but it is not quite there yet.
Richard Rohr describes this space as, “where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin.”
I turned to the internet for examples of emotional or mental liminal spaces and found that I fit in at least a couple of the major life changes suggested. For a start, I have been jobless since the beginning of the year. It was by design as the time was right for me to leave my last job to give myself the break I needed. I did not draw any timeline or give myself a deadline when I should go back to work. The time will come when I am ready. So I rested, and it felt good.
After I recuperated, the next major life-changing event came upon my family when our mum passed away in early July. We grieved but we took great comfort from the fact that mum went to her heavenly home peacefully with us by her side, and in the assurance that she is now in the presence of God and is at peace and totally healed. Not just myself but also my siblings and our dad are in the liminal space of life at this juncture. It has been not two months yet since mum’s passing so we are still in the phase of getting used to and adjusting our lives in mum’s absence.
My birthday in August was filled with bittersweet moments. All the birthday greetings, meals and gifts reminded me that I am loved by friends and relatives but I could only honour mum in my heart. My first birthday dinner was particularly memorable, not only because it was a sumptuous dinner with great company but especially with the prayers rendered after the meal, and more. Two of the ladies prayed for me while the third said she was not going to pray but instead, would give me words of encouragement and it came the term “liminal space”. She advised and encouraged me to just take the time needed to cope with the profound loss and to remember mum’s life and her love for us, to get in touch with my innermost emotions, to rest and get settled, and to simply bask in God’s loving presence in my liminal space.
I am taking things one at a time and finding joy in the little things during the ordinary course of my days. The morning walks, coffees and meals with friends, time with dad and my siblings, serving at church, my alone time and an online school I am blessed with the opportunity to attend are all brightening up and adding colours to my liminal space.
Last night, I took out a prophetic letter written for me in 2020 and as I read it again, I was amazed that the words from God spoken through a dear sister who was sensitive to His voice 2 years ago still speaks to my present situation.
This dear friend of mine received the word “colour” from the Lord and she related it to the change of seasons in the natural world, especially where there was a blend of colours with the greens mixed with the yellows and the browns, from summer to autumn. She added that it could be hard at this time to tell when exactly one season was transiting to the next, and that could be frustrating. She went on to say, “I felt that you may be at this “transition time of a change of season” where you cannot tell the colour of your life, but not to panic, I felt that the Lord wants you to enjoy the “blend of colours” in your life now. Remember that He is the Creator and He makes all things beautiful in His time, the beauty of life usually comes from such blend. Just learn to enjoy His presence in every season of your life. Continue to grow in the richness of the Lord and be changed from beauty to beauty.”
The words from the Lord released 2 years ago are just as impactful, comforting and assuring now as they were when I first read them. I will not fret, feel apprehensive or be alarmed by the uncertainty of the liminal space I find myself in. Instead, I will rest and find solace and grace in the Lord’s presence, and enjoy the beautiful blend of colours of the current season while awaiting the genuine newness to reveal itself.