Abiding the Liminal

In so many ways I am obsessed by the concept of the liminal, the threshold of change. The dictionary definition – barely perceptible, or being in an intermediate state, these only begin to open the meanings of this word in so many worlds – color theory, psychology, anthropology, spirituality and myth. Betwixt and between - at the threshold, at the crossroads, neither one not the other. Neither an elder nor a child, not belonging nor alone, a shapeshifter traveling in time, place, evolving emotion, social transition.  All my mind’s meanderings return to equinoxes, chiaroscuro, solstice, no man's land, limbo, trickster, Jung self-realization. Finally to the complete collapse of order that can lead to significant change.

Threshold of change has been eight months upon me since March. Within a separation from the “normal” this time of reflection and change has been thrust upon many of us. In this land of violent nature – fire and flood, in this land of social unrest, in this time of danger, confusion and desperation we have been forced to ponder by this time of enforced isolation. How many times have we quoted Yeats? “The best lack all conviction, while the worst, Are full of passionate intensity,” is more appropriate I think than “the center does not hold,” or the most famous, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” How do we, I particularly, exist in this time. One more month and my personal timeline would hit nine months. What will be born of this time? In me? In the world?

The other word that has followed me is “abide”, which rings with churchy overtones. “Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.” Defined, to abide is to accept or act in accordance with, to tolerate. Often abide is used today in the negative – “Abide no hatred.” In some country areas, abide is used to soften the negative – “I cannot abide that person.” But the hymn uses it to mean to stay with, to live within, to be enduring and stable. The stability of “abide” is used as a comfort. We still use “abode” to refer to our home.  Derived from the Old English abidan, gebidan meaning "remain, wait, delay, remain behind," we use “abiding” to indicate an enduring steadfast quality. To abide in the positive usage produces a sense of stability that the liminal state seems to defy.

My goal for this next month is to endure the ambiguity of transition. To abide in the state of liminality.

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