My word of the year is liminal. Yeah, I know. It’s weird. Why couldn’t I have chosen something like rhythm, contentment, peace, joy? I would have liked to. But for about a year now, and certainly over the last six months or so, I’ve felt a shift. In several areas, I felt as if I’d come to the end of one season and should prepare to begin another. So I’ve named 2021 my threshold year. My liminal space.
~I took Winnie to the doctor yesterday for a 4-year check up. By the middle of her appointment, our youngest child, who used to cry in terror and cling to me anytime we walked into the doctor’s office, said she would like talk to the pediatrician, and I should be quiet. She took over the rest of our time together, asked and answered a dozen questions, and basically ran the show. This fall, she’ll be 5, and I will have completed my season of nurturing infants and caring for toddlers— a season that has lasted nearly 15 years. I am at the threshold of discovering who I am and what I want when I’m not interrupting my reading/writing/working/conversation every few minutes to get a snack/wipe a bottom/find a lost toy. This in-between, this liminal time, is strange and exciting.
~I turned 40 this summer. And it was predictable in all the best ways. We took a trip to Maine with our favorite couple friends, celebrating well despite pandemical times. The kids made cards and gave gifts and it was all what you’d hope for a milestone birthday. But now these waters of a new decade—the second half of life—feel uncharted, and I wonder what it is that 40-somethings do.
Is there still time to change course, discover new loves, find out who I am without babies and ladder climbing and the body complexes that stick so close to women in their 30s? But also, can I go out dancing? Can I grow my hair out and wear it long? Is there room to change my mind on social issues I’ve held close because I grew up in a moral belief system where certainty was king?
The liminality of midlife is beckoning. I hope to cross over well.
~My family left our church of six years in December. It was painful. I think people stay in community—even a community that no longer fits—because it’s so lonely otherwise. The desire to belong is a strong magnet of humanity and often overshadows remonstration.
This is why we stay silent. This is why we don’t question group consensus. It’s why we look past the “What We Believe” statement on the church’s website and choose personality over principle.
For my family, 2020 gave us an opportunity to reflect on loyalty, belief and the deep, liturgical rhythms of worship that have been beckoning us for some time. We also began to examine this house of belonging—our church in Charlottesville—that esteems women as directors and volunteers, but not ministers; that holds vision meetings to “speak to the men”; that embraces evangelical revivalism even though the movement looks more like a political party than the good news it was intended to incapsulate.
This liminal realm, this threshold, with one foot on either side of loneliness and belonging is uncomfortable and quiet. We remain here in the middle space—in the liminal—for now.
Friend, where are you crossing over this year? What boundaries are keeping you in liminal spaces? What thresholds occupy your life? Where are your feet planted on either side of a thing? Will you give yourself permission to stay there a while? To get curious about the process, and your role in it? Will you trade belonging for loneliness for a season so that when you do make it home—when the liminality gives way to assurity—you’ll rest in the confidence that you made space for the answers to come.