Mark tells us that Jesus was “driven” into the wilderness. He had to be coerced into journeying to a place he may not have wanted to go. I’m wondering, have you ever been “driven” into a place you didn’t want to go, into a wilderness, a spiritual desert where things were scary and unknown? The loss of a job, the death of a loved one, a divorce, a pandemic, these are all things that happen to us and we are forced into unfamiliar territory. It can be scary. It can seem as if “wild beast” are all around trying to devour us. These are the liminal spaces where true transformation happens.
Liminal is a Latin word meaning threshold. It is on the threshold, on the edges, that we experience true change in our lives. Sometimes, life pushes us to the edges, we are at the threshold, you’ve reach the edge, what will you do? Will you look at the situation you have found yourself in, and see God in the moment? Will you let the angels minister to you? What is the lesson that you are to learn?
The temptation will be to get angry, seek revenge, forget God. If God loved me he would not have let this happen to me! The “dark night,” if you let it, will force you inward to see your own darkness. Through self reflection and self observation in these darkest moments, come the most profound insights.
This is a time to let reality be our teacher. The hard lesson is, we are not in control. This is a place of surrender, of being vulnerability and open, which makes room for something genuinely new to happen. We become empty and receptive.
Liminal space is where we are most teachable, often because we are most humbled. Here we are force to struggling with the hidden meaning of things. It’s uncomfortable so we try to avoid liminal space, but this is where true spirituality grows. This is why most of the spiritual masters tried to live their entire lives on the edge or periphery.
William Blake said, “In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between them, there are doors.”
Jesus left the liminal space of the desert and proclaimed, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Lent is a liminal space, it is a time of transition and change and conversion. It is a time between the old you and the new you. You are on the threshold of becoming something new and different. Real change is scary and there are “wild beast,” temptations that will try to stop you. Surrender and let yourself be vulnerable. Go to the edges and let the angels minister to you.
You will see that this liminal time can be a time of personal fulfillment. A time where we enter the Kingdom of God. You see, The Kingdom of God, is wherever God’s will is done. It begins in every heart that surrenders to him. As Paul says, whoever chooses to live in this kingdom experiences “peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14,17).
The key is to repent and believe. Repent in the true meaning of the word which is to change one’s mind, as in change the way you are thinking. It is conversion from one way of living to another way of living; living in accord with God. It is an interior change more than an outward one. It is a call for an interior conversion of heart. It is a chance to throw away those things that no longer serve you. It’s a chance to create a new life defined by charity and sacrificial love.
Spent time in liminal spaces, seek them out, spaces on the edge of society, avoid the mainstream. By spending time in the desert, we look inward to our own short comings, at the things that separate us from God. Now is the time to let go of the old you and become a new creation in God living in the fullness of the Kingdom.