I’ve always loved the shore. Swimming is fun, and sunbathing or beach games were alright, but there is something about the shore, the line where the water met land. My favorite was the ocean. The shoreline in constant flux, constantly coming and going, with each wave, with each tide; transition in flux.
There’s something about transitions that draw us as humans. We are drawn to change even when we fear it. Perhaps it is its inevitability. Perhaps the thrill of the new.
“Where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”
Psychologists have given that time between states, what we call “transition” a different name, “liminal time”. Liminal time is the time after you’ve left one state but before you’ve reached the next. The best description I’ve heard uses trapeze artists. The time after you’ve let go of the last trapeze bar but before you get a hold on the next one – this is Liminal time. It is a time of fear, of lack of control, of uncertainty. In real life, this is the time between jobs, when you’ve left the last but not begun the next. It is the summer between High School and college. It is the mid-life crisis as we transition from our younger idealistic (self-deluded?) selves to our more mature, realistic (self-aware?) selves.
But the amazing news of today’s reading is that God lives in liminal time! A theologian once said, “Our liminal times of life are the best opportunities we have for growth, and possibly even the only ones.” God gives us these transitions, these liminal times, because through them we grow in Him and as humans. Yes, they are frightening, and uncomfortable, and often we would rather avoid them than face them and grow, but God walks with us through these spaces, even when we feel alone.
Watch for these transitions (adolescence, leaving home, marriage, children, promotions, retirement) and rather than run from them, embrace them as times of growth. And always know that God will be there before you.
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