A friend tells me that she feels unsettled by her future, her impending retirement. She feels uncomfortably perched between her career’s end and what’s next.
After spending the last two years unravelling my marriage and career, I groan something about the gloom of limbo, of purgatory, of wanting to eat cake for breakfast to fill the void.
She says “I’m trying to think of it as a liminal space.”
The program we were attending begins so I can’t ask her what she means but it sounds kind of divine, the murmuring m and n of the word. Here’s how author and theologian, Richard Rohr, describes liminal 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. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy. The threshold is God’s waiting room. Here we are taught openness and patience as we come to expect an appointment with the divine Doctor.”
After a life focused on achievement – the college degrees, the corner office, the wedding, the baptism – it’s a tough concept, all journey without destination. I love the idea of it. The reality is sheer agony.
Get there often, writes Rohr. I want to scream.
The play I saw last weekend ends with the actress standing in her apartment’s threshold, her arms outstretched and steadied by the door frame.
She’s inside and outside. Nowhere and everywhere.
And braced for what’s next.