I have been thinking about liminal spaces a lot lately. Part of it is having spent a winter of Sundays hanging out with poets whose creativity blooms in those transformational places, and part of it is acknowledging that the pandemic has not only been a long Lent, but a longer wait between the past and the future.
One other thing that helped me survive it at first – and that as time went by I saw less as a mental health “let’s get through this” tool and more of a welcome excuse to postpone chores, emails or even schedule Zooms around– and then to schedule my entire day around– is a walk with my friend in a double literal, liminal space– here where the Chilkat River meets the sea and on the beach that’s washed clear between the tides. The moon determined many of our outings as the snows on the uplands became ridiculously deep, and the best walking was to posthole or snowshoe over that shelf and step down on the solid sand. Now that I think about, it’s also the zone between my house and the sea, another threshold. They are everywhere.
The word liminal comes from the Latin limen, which means threshold. It is used to describe the doorway between what was and what’s next. But it’s also those places that are transitory like tidelands and twilight, or the spiritual and the sacred, like a crow catching the wind and hovering, or my heart, sometimes. I don’t know about you, but my emotional sails have been luffing a lot more than usual this year. When this happens, the antidote has been another walk, and if it’s after 5 O’clock a pot gummy. (Not everyday, just the anxious ones. They were a Christmas present and I keep them with the butter in the fridge.)
And no, they have nothing to do with the fact that suddenly it seems that everywhere I look, and everything I feel, is betwixt and between – in a good anticipatory way. Better days are here, and more are ahead.
Today it’s snowing and raining (there’s even some bare grass that wasn’t there yesterday), and there’s more sand than snow thanks to the very low tide, and I’m planning for a family Easter party with an entirely new kind of gratitude compared to any other Easter, and I’ve had many reasons to be happy (and sad) in April. My life-changing accident, that now that I think of it, put me in a liminal rehabby place in 2005. That year was a lot like this one– waiting, coping and hoping. Re-entry also feels similiar. Then, “normal life” returned slowly, and with some fear. What if I fell and broke my pelvis again? And there was plenty of hesitancy to embrace the ordinary— I mean, what if I cried walking into the the grocery store because I was so happy to be standing up? (I did once, or maybe more than that, but it was okay.) Here’s something else: I never was the old normal me again. I’m different than I was. Kinder and softer, and in less of a hurry. My house is messier. May this be true for us all now. —Well, you can keep your house any way that makes you happy. The main thing, is to trust in the mystery.