Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dear Liminality,

I hate you, and I love you.

Liminality can be loosely defined as the space or time in between, a transitional period, where we are pushed to the outskirts of society, preparing to cross the limits of what we were, into what we will be.  This includes many rites of passage, and interestingly enough, church camp and mission trips.  You come in as one person, enter a liminal state of being in between, and leave a new, altered person.

In a liminal state, many people build strong relationships quickly.  This explains why you make strong friends on trips, and in my case, Bluehaven. :)

Christians as general beings are in a liminal state, because we believe "this world is not our home, we are just passing through" (As the song goes). 

Liminality, I love you:
      I question our purpose here on earth in response to the "Glorify God" rhetoric.  We form routines that take over our lives. As a teacher, I am the queen of routine.  Having a routine helps us feel safe, and comfortable; however, I think you should treat your spiritual life like you do your body.  I don't know about any of you, but it's pretty easy for me to lose 10 pounds by eating nothing but cereal for a week or two and working out. I see results quickly, but after a while, my body goes into survival mode and thinks that's all it needs to survive. Thus, the weight loss desists, and I don't change.
        In order to beat your body in this weight-loss war, you have to change up your eating and exercise every so often. Your body is constantly on alert, growing.  In the same way, I think that if you live a mediocre Christian life, following the routine of praying and church (which are important...), you never grow as a Christian. Therefore, I love times when I am in a liminal state. I love the mountain top experiences with God and other Christians that push me out of my comfort zone. You need them to propel you back into the world, stronger in your walk.

Liminality, I hate you:
I despise the in between.  I love to belong somewhere, comfortable and secure.  I'd like to think my prayerful, eatin fried chicken and singin church songs kind of life will cut it.  After all, compared to the rest of the world, I'm doin pretty good, yes? There's also a risk involved when entering a liminal state.  I don't have time for that... I can't afford that... I don't want to go to that foreign country and catch Malaria... What, you mean I need to go without to help someone else? Don't all humans want to 'fit in'?

And then, I'm reminded of one of my favorite songs,

When my love to Christ grows weak
When for deeper faith I seek
Then in thought I go to Thee,
Garden of Gethsemane!

There I walk amid the shades
While the lingering twilight fades
See that suffering, friendless One
Weeping, praying there alone.

When my love for man grows weak
When for stronger faith I seek
Hill of Calvary, I go
To Thy scenes of fear and woe.

There behold His agony
Suffered on the bitter tree
See His anguish, see His faith
Love triumphant still in death.

Then to life I turn again
Learning all the worth of pain
Learning all the might that lies
In a full self sacrifice.  

Here's to a liminality hunt. 

"What good is it, if a man claims to have faith but as no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." James 2:14-17   

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