Liminal Space

The Zen saying, “Words are the fog one has to see through” is worth contemplating.  I feel so, anyway.

For years I’ve welcomed a “word of the year,” a word or phrase that slowly settles into my being and grows into a conscious awareness of a personal message. I wish I’d kept a list. Some words I can easily recall, but others have faded as they fulfilled their purpose and moved on.

This year’s word was a puzzlement. In fact, I argued for a short time that it was entirely too vague to be of any purpose or significance. What was I supposed to do with the word liminality? 

Perhaps you remember my backyard visitor?

Multiple sources reference the magnificent birds as expressions of “liminality,” stalking their prey with near perfect stillness, then quickly striking before effortlessly taking flight.

In mythology, liminality or liminal time is referenced as heroes move through challenges or rites of passage. A liminal deity is a god or goddess who presides over thresholds, gates or doorways.

Seemed an unlikely word for me, until I began to see through the fog.

I’ve had a very difficult time blogging for the last month or so as someone very dear to me, and to our family, began to spend more and more time in the hospital. As my dear friend V. says, “Stupid Cancer!”

His life energy is thinning and so is the threshold between what we see clearly and what’s waiting.  He, of course, and we who love him and are attentive to the fragility of life, have a metaphysical connection to that same liminal space.

Just prior to this most recent hospitalization I had been thinking about a book I read decades ago, Judith Viorst’s “Necessary Losses.” I don’t recall why it so matched my need at the time, but it still speaks to me.

I went looking for my copy and couldn’t find it. I’m sure it is “out on loan” and never returned.  But lucky me!

Last month Judith Viorst appeared at a local book signing to herald her latest book, “Nearing 90.” I had to go.

She’s a grand 88 years old. And continues to speak, and write poetry, with such an intuitive knowing.

I was able to tell her how much her books have meant to me. She seemed pleased and I relished just the moment or two of conversation.

The book explores many themes of grief and mourning, aging and relationships, “love, loss and letting go.” I’m reading it again.

Liminal space–the time between the “what was” and the “next.”

That’s every day for each of us, isn’t it? I have to ask myself why it takes great love or great loss for me to tune into the mystery of liminal space. That’s also probably true for most of us.

I think my egret was a divine gift, don’t you?

Grief and peace can, and do, co-exist.

In a world of grief and pain,  flowers bloom–even then.

Kobayashi Issa–1763-1828