lim·i·nal /ˈlimənl/ adjective
- relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
- occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.
For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.
Transitions are hard. It’s that simple and that real. Sometimes they are planned, while others aren’t. Some are desired, while others aren’t. Regardless, transitions are part of the cycle of creation and life. Personally, I am often so caught up in what is coming once the transition is complete or what I have lost in an unforeseen transition that I don’t stop to breath into the liminal space that accompanies the transitions in my life. I was reminded of this during a recent transition in my life.
Last November (2017) my husband, children, and I answered God’s call for me to become a pastor. This meant transitioning some of my responsibilities at Good Shepherd to other staffers, beginning the ELCA’s Candidacy process, applying for seminary and scholarships, and completing my bachelor’s degree. At 39-years-old I was going back to school…online. Once I began my undergrad classes in March my life changed quickly. The next five months were an intense mesh of work, school, and a little family time squeezed in. Most days I felt stuck between two worlds, not having the time or energy to enjoy either to its fullest. I loved my classes, I love my family, I love the interns I got to work with at Good Shepherd, but I couldn’t give all of them the attention I wanted to. It wasn’t until I neared the conclusion of this liminal time that I was able to see the moments of support, grace, compassion, and mercy I experienced and fully appreciate them. Moments like receiving a campus tour by my Psychology of Religion professor at Colorado State when I was on campus in May. Hugs and love from our amazing interns. Moments of clarity and peace with our children and youth at Pine Lake Bible Camp. Family and friends encouraging me each step of the way. The instant bond I felt and support I received from my seminary classmates when I arrived on campus to take Greek in July while I was still finishing my Senior Capstone class for my bachelor’s degree.
Liminal space can be lonely and overwhelming. Liminal space can also be full of love and grace. And I have come to realize that liminal space is a near constant in my life. There is space between my family life and ministry life and seminary life. I think that is a good thing. It forces me to embrace my πιστις (pistis); πιστις is New Testament Greek for faith or as my seminary professors tell us a faith grounded in trust. This liminal space requires me to put my full faith and trust in our Creator; to take time to enjoy moments; to not just give, but also to receive grace from those I encounter; to give compassion and empathy to myself and others.
“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:24-28
by Sarah Key
This post is part of a series of Advent Reflections – “Joyful Expectation”
Learn more about the series at gslcwi.com/advent