The Liminal Space

The place of stillness.  Of silence and stillness.

After the end has come, yet no beginning is begun.

That mysterious in-between time where there is no action to take, no words to offer, no comfort, no plan, no reason nor explanation to be had.   This is the liminal space, from the Latin word limen meaning threshold.  This can be days, weeks, or years upon years.

And so here we have come to Holy Saturday, offering us a moment to sit in that liminal space.  Be in it.  Fully and completely.  Without distraction, without striving to overcome it, without pushing or explaining it away; perhaps even without searching out its meaning.  After all it is that dreaded place of no answers — the place of not knowing, only being.  And waiting.  

Sometimes the kindest moments are like that.  When there are no words to speak, no actions to take, no fixes to be had.  Simply holding space for someone else and being in the fullness of that moment.  Together.  Maybe with a hug, a glance, a song, a touch.  Or maybe not.  Just sitting in the silence and maybe in the tears, in the sorrow, the fear, the rage, the questions, or maybe, just maybe, in the quiet peace of surrender.

For nearly a full year I sat in tears every Sunday in a pew at my former church after a devastating and sudden loss.  Week after week, people saw me sitting there, passing me by or removing themselves to give me space believing, I’m sure, that I needed alone time (which I thought I did), and having no idea what to say or do for this distraught woman because they were suffering too.  Until one day the kindest thing happened:  a friend asked if she could sit with me.  Just sit.  I silently nodded and we sat.  No conversation, no pep talks, no hug.  She simply held space for me and the miracle of transformation began. 

Franciscan friar Richard Rohr describes liminal space as that space 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…”

Liminal space can be shared space.  As we sit today holding space for Jesus in his death, my prayer is that we have the courage to stay open to the power of this day and know that as we enter this space and accept the not knowing, we hold fast to this mystery and are changed by its miracle.

Offered by Karla Hendrick

Black and white image of a stone wall, stacked with small, flat stones, textured and uneven; some light shines from above into the center, and darkness shows all around.

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

4 responses to “The Liminal Space”

  1. Karla, thank you for your words of wisdom. You have given us a deeply beautiful reflection on those times “in between.”

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