Liminal Space – the time in between

Sometimes the anticipation of something is better than the actual thing itself! Do you ever find that? When the thing we’ve waited for finally arrives, the pleasure swiftly ebbs. The reality is perhaps not quite what we’ve built it up to be. Or, if it was as wonderful as we had hoped, I might compare it to drinking champagne (or prosecco). Fabulous whilst it lasts, and for the first glass (or three!) it is joyous. But too much, and the hours that follow are less wonderful.

In the days between Christmas and New Year, I find myself feeling in limbo, as if all is on pause. The old year has effectively ended, but the new is yet to begin. It is a time of rest for some. For others, a time of ‘stop – start’ at work. And this year, with the Tier 4 restrictions now affecting the majority of the UK, it is perhaps a stranger time than ever.

In previous years, those who had time off might have spent that time seeing friends and family. But not this year.

And so the liminality – and strangeness – of this time is more keenly felt.

We often use the word “liminal” to describe the space between here and there. This old Latin word for “threshold” is very useful for many times in our lives when we are in that space in between.

In these days, we stand upon the threshold of the new year, waiting to welcome it in. What will it bring for us?

For many, there is a hope of return to normality after the past year dominated by isolation, distance, and massive social, commercial and financial upheaval.

As we wait for the Covid vaccine to be rolled out widely enough to permit a return to “normal”, the liminality of this time will stretch beyond these days between Christmas and New Year, and long into the early months of the year.

For us in the UK, there is also the issue of Brexit, and what that will truly mean for us all – not just on the national and international level, but the impact on our daily lives.

And then there is the question of what “normal” will look like – globally, nationally, and personally. For there are surely many things which will not simply revert to how they were in January 2020. We stand in a time of collective liminality between the ‘old’ world and the ‘new’. What will that world look like?

In a sense, that’s up to us all – collectively and individually – to decide, for the simple reason that we can decide how we want to live our own lives. What we want our perspective on it all to be. If we look for blessings in each moment, we will surely find them, even in the most difficult and awful moments. And if the principles by which we live are the ones Jesus gave us – to love God and to love each other as we love ourselves – then surely we have a firm foundation. With that as our ground of Being, then we will able to keep our footing when the ground is rough or shaky.

I am reminded of Jesus’ story of the men who built their houses on rock and on sand. If we build our lives – and this new year – on the rock that is God, then we will stand firm, even as the storm winds and rains of last year continue into 2021 – and they probably will.

I realise that’s probably not quite the encouragement we’d all like to hear. But I do hope and pray that the small blessings of each day will make it all bearable. And that God will provide us all with a firm foundation and footing for all that will come in the year ahead, as we step across the threshold into 2021.

May 2021 bring you blessings and joy,
Revd. Talisker

(image by Moritz Knoringer on Unsplash)