Being in the in-between
Travelling back from London to Cornwall after Christmas I was wondering why it feels easier to think clearer or discuss big issues in the car. Perhaps because, while travelling we are in a 'liminal space', neither here nor there, on holiday or at work. We are in the in-between, where we can think clearer and more out of the box.
However, I remember when studying African folklore, that this liminal space was considered a dangerous place we should avoid. A place outside of the village, where hyenas lurk. In the West we have similar stories of wolves in the forest gobbling up grandmas. A lawless place where no-one knows our name and we have no identity; where there is no routine and things are fluid.
This made me think of other spaces that are liminal. The Desert Mothers and Fathers lived on the edge, outside of organised society, outside of control, labels and categories. They used the space and time to come uncluttered to God. Standing before him with nothing to give but themselves.
While walking along the coastal path here I met a friend, who's eyes welled up because of trouble she had at home. She felt people experienced the in-between when ill, getting old or in difficult life situations such as hers. Since it is a time of waiting for something to happen that is out of our control. A time of being vulnerable and uncomfortable. But she claimed that she needed to go through these times, horrible though they are, as they teach us so much. 'Liminal space induces a type of inner crisis to help us make a needed transition', Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs.
Another friend recently shared a difficult time she was having with her son who was very far away. Through her tears she affirmed that it's in the journey, where we don't know all the answers, is where God wants us. In the in-between, the 'not there yet'. Because that is where humility, grace and thus transformation takes place.
Perhaps the Christian life is a liminal space too? The Kingdom of God which is both now and not yet. Here, but also coming. We are on a journey to our final destination. A journey where we are in-between, where suffering and dangers lurk. Where we don't always know (I very rarely) which way to go. But also, hopefully, a journey of transition and transformation.
So hold on if you are feeling like you don't know where you are going, are sick or in trouble; you are very brave to be on this journey, stepping forward while being transformed. Furthermore, you are not alone. Jesus said "I am the Way", and that he would be with us always. When he saw the disciples in the storm he said '"Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid". Then he got into the boat with them.'
Having written all this I would like to challenge myself to experience the in-between more. As a person who likes to be in control, this is not easy. Neither do I want to invite God to take me through struggles (as I like an easy life). But perhaps to voluntarily book in some time to go to the 'desert' this year, and take some time out in the in-between.
I thought in January there would be no colour in the garden,
I was wrong.
Upcoming Quiet Days at Treargel
January Friday 24th
Declutter your life
We like to tidy our homes, but what about our lives?
This Quiet Day will look at what sparks joy in your life and how to fit more joy in.
February Thursday 13th
Where and to whom do we belong?
March Wednesday 11th
Treargel - the home of retreat
Refuge, safety, rest - what does retreating look like for you and how can you build it into your life?
April Thursday 24th
Led by Sara and Barney Barron
May Saturday 2nd
Here is an opportunity to rest, relax and reflect together; time to be still and
consider what God may reveal to us through his creation.
Led by Andrew Hill
June Thursday 4th
Finding stability in times of change
At a time when change is often feared, stability can be elusive, and busyness interferes with listening to God, this quiet day offers an opportunity for space and reflection.
Led by Jane and Richard Frost
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