Liminal Space — It's a concept that I have been thinking a lot about this last year since reading the publication of the same name by the Center for Action and Contemplation last Spring. ‘Liminal' comes from the Latin word 'limens' which means 'threshold.' Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar we often look to for help in answering some of our larger questions, says "… It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer."⠀
Sometimes the transition from Winter to Spring can feel a little bit like a Liminal Space. Sometimes it can be a bit of an awkward dance as we transverse that invisible line between seasons, the kind of dance that stops and starts and stops and starts again. One day we’re breaking out the picnic blanket and sunglasses for a spontaneous lunch in the pecan orchard across from our studio only to wake up to the cold Winter rain, again, the very next morning. Back and forth, we cross the threshold between what was before and what is yet to come.
“Without standing on the threshold for much longer than we’re comfortable, we won’t be able to see beyond ourselves to the broader and more inclusive world that lies before us.” — Center for Action & Contemplation
During this rare time, we get to experience having a foot planted in each of these two worlds. One is resting in the comfort and routine we’ve become accustomed to during Winter while the other steps eagerly and expectantly into the new growth awaiting us in Spring. We can almost feel the anticipation building up inside of us! But alas, our patience is required all the more because Winter usually has a thing or two left to share with us before it bids us adieu. Here in Georgia, you can almost bet on one final late March frost before the warmer temperatures are here to stay.
With this push and pull, our mind and body (not to mention wardrobe!) sometimes feel caught in the middle of this bizarre, seasonal tug of war. It can be hard to resist the urge to want Spring to just hurry up and get here! The warm sun on our skin and promise of sunny weekends out in the garden under a big, bright blue sky makes us giddy. Around this time of year, we start talking and dreaming about when we will have the first pond day down at the pong, or begin scheming dinners in the garden in the months to come. These dreams are important, good, and have their purpose; yet, in this moment we can’t help but notice a quiet, tiny nudge. It comes from a place deep down inside of us that whispers to us. If I get quiet enough to listen, to truly tune in, I hear the message loud and clear calling me to slow down, be patient, and open my eyes to see the beauty all around. In this transitional space of heightened intensity, we’ve found it incredibly grounding to preserve the beauty of this moment.
“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.” — Louisa May Alcott
So what does it mean to “preserve beauty”? That answer can be as varied as the beauty we see around us. There’s no “right” way to preserve beauty as long as you approach it with intention or a curious heart. Some routines and actions that are currently available to us have been noticing the changing light in our house throughout the day, or picking winter flowers (mostly camellias and weeds) and noticing the beginning buds of leaves in the trees and bushes around our home. When we walk through the woods and along the creek that runs through the woods behind the house, I appreciate the leftover blanket of leaves now beginning to soften and fray from the cycles of rain and footsteps and sunshine and cold. The leaves worn bare under my footstep are also part of this beautiful cycle of transformation. The nutrients that leak into the soil through their decomposition will nurture the growth of the forest. It makes me wonder… what thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs am I shedding now so I can also bloom and grow where I’ve been planted in this Season?
In shifting my focus to preserving the beauty unfolding all around me during this ‘in between’ time I also notice other things that are growing like my two daughters. Even in Winter, when everything else is dormant, my Emolyn and Gillian continue to grow, and grow, and grow. The photos and videos on my phone and around our home remind me of how quickly it all happens. So I savor the here and now and try as hard as I can to remember them for who they are in this moment and time.
I’m also reminded of how cyclical life is when I watch my dad caring for his father. It’s been 6 months now since he moved in next door, and my dad became his full-time caregiver. Their days are spent outside, as much as possible, clipping twigs and tending to the never-ending yard work that comes with living out in the country. I watch my dad who was once cared for by his dad with their roles now reversed. He is continuing that cycle of love in a new way, now carrying that weight of responsibility, patience, and constant care. As I watch the two of them, I wonder how these cycles and thresholds between the seasons look through their eyes. What will I notice and see when I’m my dad’s age… my grandfather’s age?
No matter where you are, there is so much happening that is specific to this unique time right outside your door. As we witness the tail offerings of Winter and the first peeks into Spring, let’s make it a priority to preserve the beauty we see and honor it… whatever that means to you, even if sometimes it feels ‘ugly pretty’. Pick flowers, go for a walk, write down some thoughts, or just sit outside and look around you. In the process, may we all learn to trust ourselves and the timing of things knowing that Spring will arrive exactly when it’s supposed to.
Megan, Gaëlle, and Katherine
Oh, wow. This post moved me. You gave language to the experience I’ve been having for the last several days. You also offered me the encouragement I didn’t realize I needed to more fully accept the liminal space, rather than simply wishing for Spring. The photo of your father with his father is tender beyond words. Thank you for this.