28 Apr The New Normal – April 29 2020
Liminal space is an inner state and sometimes an outer situation where we can begin to think and act in new ways. It is where we are betwixt and between, having left one room or stage of life but not yet entered the next. We usually enter liminal space when our former way of being is challenged or changed—perhaps when we lose a job or a loved one, during illness, at the birth of a child, or a major relocation. It is a graced time, but often does not feel “graced” in any way. In such space, we are not certain or in control. This global pandemic we now face is an example of an immense, collective liminal space.
The very vulnerability and openness of liminal space allows room for something genuinely new to happen. We are empty and receptive—erased tablets waiting for new words. Liminal space is where we are most teachable, often because we are most humbled…
This in-between place is free of illusions and false payoffs. It invites us to discover and live from broader perspectives and with much deeper seeing.
Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, Between Two Worlds
Theme: Liminal Space
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Humans, like other creatures living on this planet, abhor the unknown. In the known and familiar world, we are aware of most dangers, and have taken care to neutralize these threats to our well-being as much as possible. We can relax our fight/flight/freeze system and get about the business of living, even living well. In the unknown, danger can be lurking anywhere, at any time. We must be constantly on guard, seeing nearly everything as a potential threat.
Until we are able to once again find the sense of the familiar, some version of this survival modality will be with us. But it is clear by now that a return to normal will not be happening. As Fr. Rohr states at the end of the essay quoted from above,
‘Our consciousness and that of future generations has been changed. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle.’
Our job here is at least three-fold:
The first is to engage with the freedom offered in this in-between space so that ‘normal’ can be something we are open to discovering, rather than something we are trying to force back into existence. There is no going back to ‘the way it was before.’ There is the need to be awake and aware and present to the need of the time in the most expanded way possible. Which for now, for many of us, means to stay at home for the benefit of the whole. This will change, eventually; and if we are awake, the next right action will become clear to us.
Second is to recognize that the survival mode is online. It’s not going to stop just because I tell it to. But I can choose to operate from something other than this fear-based survival mode. I can choose to remember that life can and will change. And that my engagement in life, even my enjoyment of life, does not have to be put aside until some future day when ‘things are okay again.’ I can choose to be involved now. I can choose to love now.
Third is to remember that something is in charge of the Whole. Call it nature’s intelligence, or consciousness, or omnipresent God, there is an intelligence at work that is the whole of nature. Though we can’t know the why of things right now, we can know that in some fashion, consciousness is being served. Nature is doing what nature always does—evolving itself.
To step out of fear and fear-based thinking is to open oneself to the flow of evolution. From that flow, that which was seen as threatening becomes the pathway to our new ‘normal.’ One we get to make up as we go along.