Mt. Diablo in the distance under a cloud-speckled sky.
I never quite know what to do with my feelings during this week-long span between Christmas and the New Year. I feel a sadness for the fading glow and beauty of the holidays as we head into the stark winter months. Old memories creep in and find me startled by their visit. I get especially pensive. Yet, I feel a certain underground of excitement arising in anticipation of a new year and a “fresh start.” I think about new ways of approaching my work and my relationships. I become mindful of the years ticking by in my life, just as one might on one’s birthday — looking back and looking forward, at once far-sighted, near-sighted, and hind-sighted.
This week, in this strangest of years, feels especially liminal. It is as if the world is hung in suspense, afloat in midair, waiting, wondering, the year ahead filled with far more unknowns than we are perhaps used to. We’ve paused, a bit at least, perhaps more than usual. I, for my part, have stopped my “official” work this week. I’ve checked out of the usual rigor of meetings and email correspondences. I’m immersing myself in the sounds and practice of music. I’ve steeped myself in all manner of organizing projects — clearing files from my computer, re-categorizing photo files, archiving old emails, even organizing the spice cabinet in my kitchen. It’s slow mindful work, but it is so refreshing.
My surroundings haven’t changed. I’m still spending my days in “coronavirus lockdown” in our home, moving from my office chair to the chair in the living room to the bed at night. I step out for a morning run or an afternoon hike or a walk in the neighborhood. But I am otherwise in holy devotion to home, tiptoeing from room to room, at moments suspended in liminality like a ghost with no particular agenda.
The word liminal comes from the Latin root, līmen, which means threshold or doorway. The liminal space is a space of crossing over — an entryway into a new beginning. It’s a transition space, a place of process, on the precipice of movement yet not quite ready to take the next step.
The other afternoon, I took a short hike in a nearby forest park not far from my home in search of some perspective. I was met with views of hills and mountains in the distance as well as up-close encounters with all manner of cragged Manzanitas, lush ferns, and majestic Redwoods. I wandered in between them all, on weaving dirt trails, watching the dappled light of the afternoon intermix with the shade. I was a ghost of the forest this time.
I feel the pull of transition and crossing over deeply these days. Does it mean I’m going to die soon? Perhaps. Or it just might be the tug of something new that needs to arise in my life and something that has to pass away. The threshold is both an arrival and a leaving behind. I am ready for both.