The ’72 Impala was gassed up and ready to go! Its trunk loaded with all my worldly possessions crammed into a couple of boxes and two suitcases. Eager to get the goodbye’s over with, I kissed my parents and headed off to college. I distinctly remember being filled with mixed emotions. Excitement about starting a new chapter in my life. Sadness over leaving my family. And anxiety over what lay ahead. Mostly because I didn’t know what to expect.
For the next year, I lived into a whole new way of being. All the norms of my high school existence were slowly replaced by a new normal of college life. For the first time, I had a roommate! Now I had a brother to share late nights and stupid stunts. Food no longer magically appeared! But I got to eat whatever I wanted when I wanted. Much to the consternation of my waistline. Best of all, I had total freedom. I didn’t even have to go to class if I didn’t want to. Well, for a time anyway. It was AWESOME!
Of course, it wasn’t without its bumps and bruises. Evidently, money didn’t grow on trees! And believe it or not, professors hold you accountable even if you don’t attend class. I never want to go through that first final’s week again. I still have nightmares about it! And yet, looking back, college was this wonderful time of preparation for what was next in life.
I got to thinking about this the other day when I came across a wonderful devotion by Richard Rohr. In it, he talks about liminal time. Liminal comes from the Latin word meaning “threshold”. Liminal time is a time of transition. A season of moving into a new normal ahead. Like heading off to college. Or starting your first career job. Like getting engaged. Or having your last child move out of the house.
Or going through a pandemic. We are in a threshold time. A season between what life was like pre-covid-19. And what life will be like after this time of isolation. We don’t fully know what life will be like “on the other side”. And that not really knowing, has filled us with mixed emotions. Including anxiety.
In his devotional, Rohr talks about we often wish for times like these to be over. To move as quickly as we can through the disorientation. But, he asks, what if instead of rushing to get through it, we choose to experience this liminal time as a place of creativity, of construction and deconstruction, choice and transformation? In other words, Rohr challenges us to re-frame our experience. To re-focus on what we can become out of this season. To use this time as a time of re-development. Rather than just survive it.
Rohr argues that by intentionally leaning into this liminal time we will learn to draw on resources and possibilities we have not tapped before. And that – if we attend, we can feel the Holy Spirit moving in us in a way that we may not be aware of in more settled times. Is it possible that this season of isolation will deepen your connection to God’s Spirit?
The Scriptures say that God is able to use even the difficulties in life to bless us. Romans 8:28 says – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. What is God doing in your life right now? What is God creating within you during this season of pandemic? Are you encountering His presence today differently than you did 6 months ago?
I am confident of this: God is with you. And God is at work within you. Using even this transitional time for your benefit. For the benefit of your neighbor. And for the benefit of God’s Kingdom! May you feel the Holy Spirit moving in you in new and exciting ways today. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.