At times in my life I have come to a point, a liminal area, where I have been uncertain of how to proceed. Liminal is derived from the Latin word limen, simply meaning a threshold. A threshold joins one area to another, i.e. an entrance, doorway, portal, etc. Sometimes these areas can be comfortable and predictable while other times frightening and uncertain.
In August of 2013 when my sister died, I lost not only a sister but my best friend. In November my husband, Don, fell on the ice, hit his head, and broke his back. In December our daughter-in-law gave birth prematurely to our grandson, Drew, who spent 98 days in the NICU. In January of 2014 Don had brain surgery to remove a tumor that was detected when he fell on the ice in November.
While dealing with all of these traumatic incidents my mind was flooded with questions. How do I deal with all of this simultaneously? When will our lives improve? Will Drew lead a normal life? Will Don’s tumor be cancerous? It was an exhausting time of uncertainty.
During those six months I spent much time waiting … waiting for test results, waiting for paperwork, waiting for life to improve. During the waiting I discovered I enjoyed being alone, as it gave me time to think, to be still, and to look realistically for hope. I remembered the Bible verse, “Be still and know that I am Lord,” Psalm 26:10. It gave me comfort. In our fast-paced world it is challenging to be still, but it gave me time to process everything that was going on in our family’s lives. The stillness gave me time to think, to pray, and to hope.
During that time I also tried to be more aware of others around me. I soon realized I was not the only one going through tough times. I found myself being more “in the moment,” appreciating the simple things in life.
One cold, January night on my way home from the UW Hospital where Don was recovering, I appreciated the peacefulness of the night with a fresh blanket of snow. As I turned into our driveway, I saw something unfamiliar. It was a bright light reflecting off the snow, nestled on top of a snowbank. What was it? Had I forgotten to turn off an outside light? No … it was a stunning ice globe with a candle flickering inside! It was a glimmering light of HOPE piercing the cold, dark night! Tears of joy ran down my cheeks! My compassionate neighbor had provided me with a ray of hope.
On the wall by the front door of our home is this prayer:
O, Lord God, who has called us as thy servants
To ventures of which we cannot see the ending,
By paths as yet untrodden and through perils unknown:
Give us faith to go out with good courage.
Not knowing where we go;
But only that thy hand is leading us
And thy love supporting us;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I first learned this prayer in 1973 when I worked as a volunteer at Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. This prayer served as the focus of our wedding in 1976 and has served as a constant reminder as we go in and out of our home through the liminal spaces of our lives.
by Krista Nelson
This post is part of a series of Advent Reflections – “Joyful Expectation”
Learn more about the series at gslcwi.com/advent