Hope: Liminal Space


On Saturday I was trying to write out some thoughts and I used the words “liminal space”. I paused and decided to look that up. I wanted to be sure that it “means what I think it means” (thank you, Inigo Montoya).

I found this definition by way of “Google Dictionary”: 

liminal:  /ˈlɪmɪn(ə)l/: adjective

1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.

2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold. 

Limen (Latin): means “threshold”… Waiting. Holding. A period of time that is “in between” what was, and what will be.

Also this week, I’ve been reading Psalm 63:1-8 – Except I haven’t really gotten beyond verses 1 and 2. They read like this in the New Living Testament:

O God, you are my God;

I earnestly search for you.

My soul thirsts for you;

my whole body longs for you

in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

I have seen you in your sanctuary

and gazed upon your power and glory.

I stopped there because I was weeping.

I went back to the “subtitle” for the chapter. It says, “A psalm of David, regarding a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah”.

I thought, “Right there between the first line and the second, there should be a great big ‘AND’.” 

“O God, you are my God – AND – I earnestly search for you;

my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land

where there is no water.”

That is a liminal space. David – no longer a shepherd and not yet a king – in the wilderness longing for God, who is, without question, his God.

David remembers days when he could worship God in the sanctuary. He remembers going to the temple with his father and brothers, celebrating feasts and festivals and celebrating high holy days.

That was before a prophet arrived in town, and anointed David’s head with oil. That was before David was told he would be king, despite the fact that they had a king who was beautiful, strong, and larger than life (1 Samuel 16).

And now David is in the wilderness, hiding and, sometimes, running for his life.

“I have seen you in your sanctuary

and gazed upon your power and your glory.” 

Me too, David.  Me too.

O God, you are my God. And I long for you. My soul longs for you as for water in a parched and weary land.

Liminal space is a threshold. It is the space between what was and what will be.  It is a place of transition and waiting. It is a sacred, holy place.

And it is hard.

More often than not, transformation happens not because something new begins, but because something old and comfortable falls apart.  We are forced to go to new places.

And, as with David in the wilderness, we don’t always have control over when it begins and when it ends. 

I find myself in this space. 

I have so many thoughts about this, and I think if I tried to write them all in this one post it would get heavy and confused (like my brain at the moment). 

I have this word of clarity (and I will share more thoughts another day) – This is a holy space. God is in the wilderness.

God stands in the threshold.

God is present between us, even when we are not physically present with one another.

O God, you are my God. I have seen you in the sanctuary and gazed upon your glory and power.

And I have seen you in the desolate, lonely place. 

Though I long for the sanctuary, I see that the wilderness is transformed and there is beauty here.

Sometimes the threshold feels like a storm. Stand in it. It is the threshold to something new.

That’s what I would have said… if we were in the same room.

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