Even though much of my work is literally TOO BIG FOR WORDS, occasionally I am inspired to write, and this is the place for that. Feel free to join in the conversation. Thanks for reading.
How did you choose to pass through the liminal space between 12.31.13 and 1.1.14? Some celebrated the new year in high style (we danced in the new year at Fitzgerald's with friends); others paused to set intentions or make resolutions (I shared our family's New Year's Day ritual in my last Spark); many just pushed on through to the next year, business as usual. No matter what, I trust you marked the calendar page turning safe and warm inside, thanks to the subzero temperatures in Chicago.
What is liminal space? Let's check in with that wonderful resource, Wikipedia:
Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, "threshold") is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. Participants "stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way.The concept of liminality was first developed in the early 20th century by anthropologist Arnold van Gennep. More recently, usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change as well as rituals. During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt. The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established. The concept of a liminal situation can also be applied to entire societies that are going through a crisis or a "collapse of order". Events such as political or social revolutions (along with other periods of crisis) can thus be considered liminal, as they result in the complete collapse of order and can lead to significant social change. (excerpted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality)
Liminal periods can describe moments, days, weeks, years, entire eras. They can be experienced by individuals, families, entire cultures. I am a Midwestern gal at the midpoint of her life standing between raising kids to fly the nest and creating the third chapter, my new career. Much about where I stand is uncertain, dissolving, doubtful, unknown. In 2014, my husband will turn 50, my baby will go to high school, my oldest will go to college and my son will get his driver's license. "Turn and face the strange. Ch-ch-changes," David Bowie reminds me. This week, my 13-year-old asked whether I believed in destiny. "Do my choices matter?" I asked her in return, trading one good question for another. Here we stand together at this doorway between 2013 and 2014, between what we have done and what we will do, between who we were and who we are becoming, at a time between eras when some say we have the choice to evolve or become extinct.
I was fortunate to spend last Monday evening with 15 local activists willing to step out of their comfort zones on an icy evening to discuss Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone. Together we pondered the massive crises including climate change and our role in the face of this mess. This excellent read proposes that "Whatever situation we face, we can choose our response...The kind of responses we make and the degree to which we believe they count, are shaped by the way we think or feel about hope." Active Hope, they say, is the practice of "becoming active participants in bringing about what we hope for." What do we hope for in the face of all this change? What choices do we make in these liminal moments?
The next time you walk through a doorway, consider how you pass through liminal spaces. How do you choose to enter or exit? Do you pause to consider your choice, linger wishing to stay in the status quo, cherish the passage, run screaming through hoping for greener grass on the other side, or fail to notice anything at all? Do our choices matter? How willing and ready are we to face the messy, unknown, strange future? At this threshold, in this moment, what are we destined for? What steps are we willing to take to make real what we hope for?
If you need a safe space to stir up these big questions, join me in my new Circle forming later this month.