Neither Here Nor There But Both
Thinking about prayer lately has drawn me into thinking about liminal spaces. Liminal space is defined as a boundary or a threshold. I think of those places as "between."
Between waking and sleeping, between this reality (whatever that is!) and the Other, the Numinous. Between sky and sea, sea and shore. And here, in these dunes where my parents' ashes lie intermingled, between the living and the dead. In my imagination, another liminal space, I often see, in fading light, my mother and father walking hand in hand beside these shores, whispering of wonders beyond my ken.
The ancients believed gods and goddesses presided over those places of transition, providing protection — for example, Enodia, goddess of crossroads; Terminus, the god who protected boundary markers; and Cardea, goddess of health, thresholds, hinges, and door handles.
Liminality is understood to be that place where we are neither here nor there but also both there and here. A time of transition, where we are not yet the next thing we will become but no longer what we were. It is a place of incredible richness and also profound uncertainty. It is where matter and mystery collide.
I think the act of praying (whether as part of any tradition or no tradition) moves us into liminal space, beyond what we know, even beyond what we might profess to believe, on into the unknown. Our prayer may be a cry of the heart or a wordless leap into silence, a conversation or a complaint. We may pray while full of doubt or firm in faith. But there in that place we come face to face with how much is beyond our control.
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