Saturday, April 23, 2011

Liminal…

Limen is the Latin word for threshold. A “liminal space” is the crucial in-between time—when everything actually happens and yet nothing appears to be happening. It is the waiting period when the cake bakes, the movement is made, the transformation takes place. One cannot just jump from Friday to Sunday in this case, there must be Saturday! This, of course, was always the holy day for the Jewish tradition. The Sabbath rest was the pivotal day for the Jews, and even the dead body of Jesus rests on Saturday, waiting for God to do whatever God plans to do. It is our great act of trust and surrender, both together. A new “creation ex nihilo” is about to happen, but first it must be desired. . . .

Remember, hope is not some vague belief that “all will work out well,” but biblical hope is the certainty that things finally have a victorious meaning no matter how they turn out. We learned that from Jesus, which gives us now the courage to live our lives forward from here. Maybe that is the full purpose of Lent.

Richard Rohr, from Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent, Saint Anthony Messenger Press, 2010


Reading this passage from Rohr, I was suddenly reminded of an Easter Saturday poem I wrote many years ago. The weather’s wrong for this Easter – it was an early Easter that year on the North-East coast – but otherwise it says what I’m feeling better than I probably could today, in this glorious late spring sunshine…


LIMINAL

Shallow sky’s thin edge
with sea and grey – lost
with pattern layers
into distance, thread cold
in no reckoned afternoon –
hatches its waiting
in a slow tide quick
with dunlin.

Stitched frail attributes
the day brought down
to no rain yet, or
given back over so long
to a rim the sea
asks across,
finding and finding
no thing to keep.

The land’s seasons fail
across surface, picked
over the rocks into stippled days.
Downshore, parallels repeat
out of seeing, as dim as far.
Wrack-line and sea’s edge,
limen and littoral hold,
patched and rotted with light.

Michael Farley, Lucy’s Ironworks, Stride Publications, 1990

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