Spiritual Matters: Liminal Space

    Marie Higgins June 1, 2022

    About thirteen years ago, I left a long-standing career, giving two months’ notice, to be more available at home and to find something that newly made my heart sing. In the beginning, I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I often figured I had time to decide. Sometimes, however, I felt frazzled and frenzied to quickly figure out what road to take.

    This space of being in-between the old and starting something new is called liminal space. It can be an incredibly uncomfortable time where we waft between a calm knowing and a scary space of questioning and getting busy for the sake of busy.

    Liminal space can be about a career change, but it can be about so many other things, including an illness (yours or a loved one), a death, a natural catastrophe, a heart’s desire, like wanting to live somewhere else and so on. There are endless possibilities of liminal spaces.

    Maybe you have a similar experience where nothing has seemed certain and you want to move to solid ground as quickly as possible.



    Write about a time when something in you shifted, like when you felt that you were supposed to do something else, be somewhere else, have an unwanted change thrust upon you, etc. Maybe it is happening now.



    What fears did you/do you have about a shift?


    With my career dilemma, what was helpful to me is that I talked to a lot of people about other career options, especially during the notice I had given to my employer. Because I was not staying in the same field or going to a competitor, I could ask people things like, “what else do you think I would be good at doing?” or “what other jobs did you have?”

    It was during this time that I had the most meaningful conversations with the people I had worked with for almost ten years. For example, I learned that one woman had a side business selling a specific kind of antique; it was also suggested to me that I had the temperament to be a massage therapist and could have a home-based business. The latter example, while it seemed highly unlikely for me, did prompt me to write a skill on my list that I had forgotten about; that is, when I was young, I liked to swap back scratches with my sisters; so, I added “touch” to my list.



    What makes your heart sing? Create a list. (Even if your dilemma is something other than about your career, these questions still apply).



    What are your skills? Create a list.



    Who personally or what helpful professional comes to mind as someone you should contact?


    Because I gave my notice while the school year was still in swing for my kids, I had two months where my head space could shift. But instead of enjoying it fully, I sometimes got busy at figuring out my next move. So even though the extra time is what many of us clamor for, we are conditioned to be stressed while we are in the in between. I found that to be true for myself.



    Write more about this liminal space during your life, when you were uncertain and you were at a threshold to something else. How long has it been since you last experienced liminal space? What were your strongest emotions/fears/desires?



    Do you believe that God* has been with you in this liminal space?


    It is not an easy space to live in. For many of us where the dilemma is a career change, we think we should be finding interim work assignments or be constantly marketing ourselves or our new business. I have heard it before from people who have been laid off. They feel that if they are not looking for work every second, then the time is wasted, because they are not doing a good job looking for work which they feel should be their full-time job. The same can be said for those who are newly retired, rushing into lots of doing.

    For me, I am grateful that I resisted the temptation to throw myself immediately onto a new path. Specifically, I could have started massage school in July, to get moving more quickly towards earning again. But then I would have missed out on three months of free time before the next session which began in October, including missing out on a big family trip and having an entire summer to play, meet up with friends, and get professional advice.

    I have come to learn and believe that this in-between space is sacred space. God* accompanies us in this empty, liminal space, this time of being on the cusp of something new, but still unsure what it will fully be.



    God*, what else do you want me to know about this?


    Don’t second guess yourself on this one. It is what makes the journaling a spiritual experience. Write whatever comes to you, even if you think it is just your own mind’s voice speaking. In this way, you are getting a two-way conversation started. And liminal space is the perfect time to begin a journaling practice, and especially a spiritual journaling practice.

    Here’s to wishing you a wonderful journaling journey!

    *For this column, I want to define God by not defining God. I suggest that each of us use the term which feels most comfortable. I use God as a universal term. You may decide that Spirit, Great Spirit, Higher Power, Sensibility, Best Self, or SOMETHING else better suits you. It is not for me to decide what term you use. It is only for me to decide which term I use. I often use the term God.


    Marie Higgins

    Author bio:Book Cover Sprouting   Spirituality Marie Higgins left corporate America after more than 15 years in human resources management to pursue life. Before long she found massage therapy and became a nationally certified, state-licensed massage therapist. At the same time, she felt a partial hardening of the heart, figuratively and spiritually, so she found a spiritual coach to help, and became an active journaling person. Included in her journals are the gratitude lists that helped her heart soften and moved her to write poetry. In 2017 she included these poems in her debut book, Sprouting Spiritual Growth: A Memoir and a Guide to Spiritual Journaling. Since then Marie maintains a journaling practice that includes writing poetry whenever inspiration strikes. Marie lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband, two young adult children and an active foxhound.