MLCers both seek and fear Liminality. They are trying to escape the mundane complacency of life, the Sisyphean treadmill that is without passion, without life force, without feeling. But they escape in high energy of volatile emotions and actions, rather than entering into thought first. They want the romance which is to say they want to feel something, something good and high. They want Easter without Lent.
But as many of you have learned, it doesn’t work that way. This crisis is not something to get over—for you or them; it is something each person must go through on their own. The liminal space is a pause where there is not forward or backward, it is a space outside of such linear constraints. It is uncertainty because it is between the past and future. It is both quiet reflection and volatile change.
Liminality as Depression
Liminal space is often a time of depressive darkness—The Dark Night of the Soul. There are three major contributors to Liminality as it applies to depression.
- Sense of personal failure
- Fear or concern for future consequences
- Feeling of helplessness
This may be the most familiar concept since it is what I review in detail as the Liminality stage of MLC. The sense of failure, fear and helplessness are common to LBSs and MLCers alike. The difference may be in when you allow yourself to feel these things openly. An LBS may be drop kicked directly into failure, fear and helplessness as a result of Bomb Drop, whereas your MLCer avoids through Replay. But what else is Liminality? I’ve said that depression need not be bad, but what do I mean by that?
Depression as Liminality is not clinical depression; it is meant to be an inner journey…
Liminality as Solitude
This may be the easiest to understand. Liminality is a place between worlds, cultures, people… The shaman was considered liminal because he traveled between the spiritual and literal world. Though respected, shamans were also feared and lived on the edges of society where they were separate. So to become liminal can be to withdraw from society and enter into a solitary experience.
Embracing solitude does not mean you have to give up your worldly possessions and move to a hermitage deep in the woods. Create your sacred space within your life. Set aside a time and place for your personal Sabbath.
How should you use this solitude and space? I don’t know, how should you? It is your space, your journey. I use mine for meditation, quiet reflection, reading or writing poetry…
Liminality as Spirituality
For me spirituality and solitude go together, but it not that way for everyone. Liminality is about entering into thoughtful solitude in order to be receptive to God. It is about becoming patient as we accept God’s Time.
8…with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 15…regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. (2 Peter 3:8-9, 15)
It does not matter whether your believe in the God of Christianity, Judaism, whether you are Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim… Time is a construct of our existence, not Spirituality. Our life journeys take time because we need the time to absorb the lessons and experiences.
Liminal Space is something that pulls you out of normalcy and into an alternate universe—a paradigm shift. Emily Dickinson said “if I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” What does that mean? It’s not meant to be a morbid pleasure regarding decapitation; it is not about the physical head, but the mind and being challenged and changed. Liminality is not a confirmation or affirmation of what you know; God will not show up in a three piece suit unless that is something that will knock you out of the state of your mind. In the novel The Shack, God appeared as a black woman.
Spirituality is about moving beyond religion, moving beyond doctrine, dogma and belief systems, taking it from an external experience to an inner experience; to a place of poetry rather than prose. To experience this is to be enthused—filled with divine inspiration, filled with God. Without this visceral experience, religion becomes doctrine, dogma and morality, which in turn leads to judgment, fears and feelings of failure.
Liminality as Risk
But I am fooling myself. I may find comfort in solitude and meditation. But comfort is not going to knock me out of my mind is it?
I take to heart Jesus instructions in Matthew 6:6. “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” I take those to heart not because I like rules—I don’t like rules, but this instruction fits me; I like its comfort. Jesus gave this instruction to make a difference from those who wore their piety as a self-righteous badge of honor, not as something for my personal comfort.
To be liminal is to stand on the edge without knowing what lies beyond and step forward. I have spoken now and before of Liminality as it applies to depression, solitude and spirituality, but it is also about risk. Life on the edge is a life that is felt rather than numb. It is to step away from comfortable complacency. Those raised in the wealth or Western society fear liminality. It is poverty, hunger, war…pain and suffering. But it is a life felt and what must we risk in order to feel again?
As an introvert solitude is natural to me; lacking a quiet mind I appreciate quiet around me. I cannot even imagine how it may be so, but writing this forces me to admit and consider. Do I need to socialize to experience Liminality? I’ve felt it in solitude, but what more is there for me if I take a risk and face my nerves and trepidations?
In future posts I will create some Liminality Challenges.
What are your thoughts?
Where is your comfort and how can you get yourself to rise out of it?
What are you afraid of?
How is any of this relevant to being a Stander?
Why is it important?