“Liminality: A quality of ambiguity and disorientation that occurs in transitory situations and spaces, when a person or group of people is betwixt and between something that has ended, and a new situation not yet begun. During liminal seasons, we occupy space on both sides of a boundary or threshold. We have one foot rooted in something that is not yet over, while the other foot is planted in a thing not yet defined, something not yet ready to begin.” — Susan Beaumont, How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going
We are living in liminal times. In so many ways, “what was” is passing away and “what will be” has yet to emerge — as church, as society, as children of God. To live in liminal times is often disorienting and anxiety producing. We have a tendency to try and resolve liminality either by trying to go back to what was or rushing our way out of it and, by our will alone, creating the new.
But as our scripture teaches us, God does God’s best work with people in liminal space. Moreover, God often asks us to live in liminal space far longer than we would like. When the people followed Moses across the Red Sea, they probably thought they were signing up for maybe a week’s journey to the promised land. Nobody had any idea it was a forty-year journey that lay ahead of them.
As we begin 2022, I am aware that the liminality of 2021 has not been resolved. COVID-19 is still with us. We are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to transition to a new way of living — post-colonial and carbon-neutral should be our top priorities — but we are not quite sure what that will look like or how to get there. The anxiety over what the church of the 21st century should be like is still with us and there are no clear answers or “solutions.”
But I remain firm in the faith that God does God’s best work with people in liminal space. I believe that this liminal space, as uncomfortable as it may be, is a holy place that is full of potential.
It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as your bishop this past year. As we begin 2022, I look forward to coming to know the people of this diocese, to meeting those I have not yet met and to going deeper with those I am only just beginning to know. We have much to learn, much to discern and much with which to wrestle. May we discern the voice of God and the tremendous potential and promise of our time. May we begin 2022 full of humility and hope.