Today is the liminal day.
Limen (Lat.) the “threshold” – the space between one room and another.
There is the old room, known and predictable. The shape of this room is at least familiar. I have some sense of how things work in this room.
But, the new room remains unknown. I cannot see what this new space may hold. There is no map for what lies ahead. The journey forward is shrouded in darkness and uncertainty. The unknown feels threatening and disorienting.
I hesitate, no longer fully where I was, not quite ready to move into an uncertain future.
Liminal space is uncomfortable and awkward. It is a place of confusion, vulnerability, at times even fear.
Most of life is lived, one way or another, in this threshold place. We are always between something. We are between sickness and health, between relationship and loss, children and their absence, between work and retirement. All liminal space points to the fundamental reality that we live on a thin line between birth and physical death.
It is strange that this in-between place should be called “holy.” Holy Saturday must not have felt “holy” to Jesus’ disciples. He who was most “holy” had been taken from them. He had suffered everything unholy and now he was gone. What were they to do?
It must have felt blank, bleak, dark, and desperately tragic. There was so much sadness to bear, so much pain to process. Nothing made sense in this new reality.
Peter hoped he could simply recreate the past,
I am going fishing. (John 21:3)
Perhaps a return to routine would calm his shattered spirit. Perhaps in the familiarity of the known he might find comfort and hope.
But going back is not an option. Those who had experienced the presence of Jesus, could not pretend they had not been touched. Their lives had been forever changed. We carry every past with us into the future.
stood weeping outside the tomb. (John 20:11)
She did not try to fix anything. She did not try to make it better. She went towards the darkness and just stood her ground. In this “tomb” place her heart opened deeply to the pain and mystery of the moment.
All we can do in this threshold space is wait.
To wait is to stand between what was and what is yet to be. We stay with the discomfort and uncertainty, let go of our demands and expectations that things should be different than they are. We resist the urge to flee. We stand in the darkness accepting all that we do not know and cannot see.
It is tempting to want to rush back into the old room. If only we could return to the days when things felt secure, when we knew how the game was played.
Or, perhaps we are more inclined to rush ahead into the new room. We press for immediate change. We look for the quick-fix solution and determine to charge ahead.
The hard work is standing still in this in-between place.
It was as Mary “stood weeping outside the tomb” that she
saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. (John 20:12)
Mary was moved through liminal space, not because she had a plan or a strategy, but because she had an open willing gentle heart. Mary was available to experience the new arising that is Easter because she stood still. She allowed the reality of circumstance to break open her.
This day is “holy” because it offers me the opportunity to open to the reality and mystery of this moment. Liminal space invites me to experience the beauty of being fully here now in the midst of the darkness and discomfort of an abandoned past and an uncertain future.