Liminal Space is Icky but Transformational

I was unable to attend Regional Gathering – Love Let Us Here: A Time to Rest, but I did watch the recording afterwards. One of things that stood out to me was Bishop Cliff’s use of the term liminal space.

In their article, What Is Liminal Space? – 4 Key Features of Liminality, Chris Drew writes, “Liminal space is an in-between space. It can be defined as a space that is:

  • A threshold between two spaces
  • A transitional space
  • A transformative space
  • A space where you don’t know what is coming, but where many things are possible in the near future.”

In The Impact of Liminal Space on Your Mental Health, Theodora Blanchfield shares, “To be in a liminal space means to be on the precipice of something new but not quite there yet. You can be in a liminal space physically, emotionally, or metaphorically.  Being in a liminal space can be incredibly uncomfortable for most people. Brains crave homeostasis and predictability, and liminal space is everything but.”

Transformative sounds exciting, but I’m less keen on the “you don’t know what is coming” and “liminal space can be incredibly uncomfortable.” I like a solid plan, schedule, and to-do list. I often live under the illusion that I am in control. Liminal space feels like the middle of nowhere with zero plan to get anywhere. It’s a lot like waiting, another skill I have yet to master. Yet, I am willing to tolerate discomfort and throw my beloved schedule out the window if it means transformation.

Richard Rohr, in Oneing: Liminal Space, writes, “Liminal space relativizes our perspective. When we embrace liminality, we choose hope over sleepwalking, denial, or despair. The world around us becomes again an enchanted universe, something we intuitively understood when we were young and somehow lost touch with as we grew older.”

I didn’t plan, schedule or to-do list as a child. I followed where my sense of adventure, imagination, and creativity led me. Childhood is a time of constant transformation, so how and when did this become so uncomfortable?

As Bishop Cliff mentioned, the church is currently in a liminal space. We are on the threshold of something new, but we are finding it difficult and uncomfortable. If your go-to is like mine you might be trying to schedule and plan your way out of this space, but this is the time we need to stop and listen for the Holy Spirit. We need to embrace this quiet, transformative time.

Although derived from the Latin word līmen, meaning “threshold,” it reminds me of the word limit, but clearly if there are limits they are self imposed because God provides an abundance of adventure, imagination, and creativity. My only job is to embrace this liminal space, and trust that God will transform and love me, as He always does.

Alison McKinnon | FMCiC Communications Content Creator