This blog features reflections on current affairs through the lens of my Quaker faith and practice and offers not only analysis but a perspective on hope, renewal, and reconciliation - a “lift”, as I call it - during these stressful, chaotic times.
I hope that you will use the Comments feature to participate with me and with each other. I believe it will be enriching to us all.
March is a liminal month, and we live in an intriguing liminal time. My experience of creation in these March days is filled with new buds and emerging blossoms that are still not yet. And my social and political world deals with the evolution of non-masking and teetering between the not yet of democracy and autocracy, between war and peace. Not just holding but embracing the reality of it all provides an elemental vulnerable force that infuses the fullness of life, its never-ending swings in our quest for the meaning of our existence. Among the many metaphors to attempt to express the complex response to the liminal transitions in our lives, I have been most moved by sitting long and still by the restless sea as the waves confidently roll in, only to be met with the counter of the ebbing response, while all the while being aware of an even more dramatic, less visible lunar controlled transition of the tides as they pulse the rhythm of the universe. The tides are the ultimate, wondrous expression of the luminous, the perpetual state of almost-but-not-quite in in the turning, turning, turning of Grand Mystery.
You and I are children of the liminal. We do not control the not-yet of our lives, and this seem especially hauntingly true at this planetary season when all of life is unsettled and waiting.
My reflections this evening are inspired in part by the celebration of my wife’s seventy-five years of liminal life. From the perspective of even those few years, we see how much of our lives are always in transition as we navigate times of peril and the moments of wondrous grace and gratitude. My reflections this evening are also inspired by the lovely poem by Carrie Newcomer, my favorite Quaker poet, song writer and folk singer that so deftly and poetically captures the spirit of the liminal.
With blessings for you on you liminal journal as well.
So much of what we know
Lives just below the surface.
Half of a tree
Spreads out beneath our feet.
Living simultaneously in two worlds,
Each half informing and nurturing
A tree is either and neither
But mostly both.
I am drawn to liminal spaces,
The half-tamed and unruly patch
Where the forest gives way
And my little garden begins.
Where water, air, and light overlap
Becoming mist on the morning pond.
I like to sit on my porch steps, barn jacket and boots
In the last long exhale of the day,
When bats and birds loop in and then out,
One rising to work,
One readying for sleep.
And although the full moon calls the currents,
And the dark moon reminds me
That my best language
Has always emerged out of the silence,
It is in the waxing and waning
Where I most often live,
Neither here nor there,
On the way.
There are endings and beginnings
One emerging out of the other.
But most days I travel in an ever present
And curious now.
A betwixt and between,
That is almost,
But not quite,
But not yet.
I’ve been learning to live with what is,
More patient with the process,
To love what is becoming,
And the questions that keep returning.
I am learning to trust
The horizon I walk toward
Is an orientation,
Not a destination.
And that I will keep catching glimpses
Of something great and luminous
From the corner of my eye.
I am learning to live where loss holds fast
And where grief lets loose and unravels.
Where a new kind of knowing can pick up the thread.
Where I can slide palms with a paradox
And nod at the dawn,
As the shadows pull back
And spirit meets bone.
From Carrie Newcomer"s latest collection of poetry “Until Now: New Poems,” 2021