Life in Liminal Spaces

The time we are in is a time in between. Many continue to suffer the dramatic effects of the novel coronavirus and its disease known as COVID-19. It continues to stoke a great deal of fear in people who are afraid of what opening our communities back up can mean for their own health. Then there are those who have suffered without work and desperately need the economy to restart if they have a hope of paying their bills, their rent, their mortgages, and the many other expenses that have piled up. There are those who are true extroverts who are desperately wanting to reconnect and experience the expansive life they had previously experienced … moving beyond the walls of their confinement for more than a fast run to the grocery store. Then there are those who have enjoyed this time as introverts and who are glad to spend more time alone. Even as things begin to reopen (some perhaps too soon), we find ourselves in that space between in and out … isolation and connection … fear and courage … the now and the not yet.

As a young boy, I became fascinated with Peter Pan. I grew up with the 1953 Disney animated version of Peter Pan, but I was especially fascinated because I spent about four years of my childhood in Weatherford, Texas, which had a statue of Mary Martin as Peter Pan from her role as the young boy in the broadway production shortly after the release of the Disney movie. We called it Peter Pan Park. Martin, and her famous son, Larry Hagman, hail from Weatherford (thus the statue).

And in all the movies I have seen, there are some incredible lines, many of them first penned by the original creator of Peter Pan, J.M Barrie. So many of them speak to me today!

The boy who wouldn’t grow up is an archetype of the natural child in all of us. It contains stories of fantasy, mischief, a place “where dreams are born and time is never planned.” Perhaps this is the child I have always longed to be … it speaks to an inner desire to be the most authentic self as dreamt by childhood. Then there is this one line that spoken in the movie Hook, by Tinkerbell (played by Julia Roberts) to Peter Pan (played by Robin Williams): “You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where we can still remember dreaming? That’s where I will always love you. There’s where I’ll be waiting, Peter Pan.”

Liminal Space!

That childhood archetype describes what Jesus means when he says that we “must become like children” to enter the kingdom of God. It is here that we can hold the contradictions of the now and the not yet … of the yes and the no … of liminality. It is where my pastor’s heart hurts for both those whose health is in danger by the reopening of our economy and those whose livelihoods are seriously threatened when our economy is shut down. It is in this place where we experience the now and not yet of life in God’s creation. It is learning to be still and be held by God in this time that feels utterly suspended.

Contemplative practice would teach us that this is where we can seek an encounter with the divine. God is perhaps revealed best in these liminal spaces. It requires of us a practice of mindfulness … to practice a deeper awareness of everything happening in this very moment. It asks us to avail all of our senses to what is happening right now even as you read this. It is to see that God is making use of this time to connect with us.

There will always be something new emerging … that is the gift we know as resurrection. But while we await that new thing … our renewed calling as the body of Christ … don’t let this time pass without seeing where God is loving us and waiting for us! As we experience the challenges of being caught between sleep and awake, look for the touch of the divine reminding you that on both sides of this liminal space you are loved and cherished.

May God find you right where you are!

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