The in-between. An ambiguous space where what was is gone and what will be is not yet. The ‘middle stage’ of rituals: the participant’s pre-ritual status or way of structuring their identity is obliterated yet they have not yet transitioned to the status or identity which the ritual will bestow upon them.
It began in the emptiness of the research students’ room two years ago. In the morning quiet next to a desk covered with books and sunlight, with these words he invited me in.
Now listen, daughter, don’t miss a word:
forget your country, put your home behind you.
Be here—the king is wild for you.
Since he’s your lord, adore him. (Psalm 45:10-11 MSG)
The sabbatical was the beginning of my response. A sabbatical which took me months of coaching conversations even to contemplate. But it didn’t end there. In fact, those few months of sabbatical were only the gateway, a relinquishing process which lasted in the end some twelve months.
Now in the last few months, something has changed. I’ve forgotten my country, mostly, and I’ve moved into the place of in-between. Wilderness, a wise lady called it. Not a route to somewhere else but the thing itself. The place of intimacy with the king. The time of tender-speaking, of learning to lean upon the beloved. Present to him and absent, even achingly absent, to people.
And, in this liminality, the call to be here. It’s proving a harder thing than I thought. There’s discomfort associated with several aspects of my life right now. Some toxicity in the contexts in which I find myself. Things which are not yet as I had hoped. And from the parched lonely of Cherith, I’m tempted to look back to my country, to the place which preceded this liminality.
But in recent days that king, the one who is apparently wild for me, he has been whispering in my ear. He’s been reminding me of these verses from this royal Psalm, encouraging me to be here. In all of the ambiguity of this space, seemingly removed from ‘where the action is’, to be present to him and to my self.
As I’m learning to hold myself here, at this threshold between what was and what is not yet, I’m finding that it’s another kind of threshold too. Here heaven and earth are meeting in my life. Sacred space, sacred time. Not yet transitioned into the truth of his calling, of the name he gave so long ago. Not yet living out of that space. But learning to release the names I’ve lived under, to dismantle my defences and live increasingly vulnerable before him. Advancing in listening, in not missing a word. Learning that same wildness of adoration. And preparing for the space beyond, when Teresa’s white butterfly will find its wings.