Intro: What is a Liminal Space?

Welcome to the Liminal Place
– A Place That Is Not Business As Usual

What is a liminal space? The dictionary defines a limen as a threshold. A liminal space, therefore, is a circumstance within a space of time that is situated at the limen – the place where one condition is drawing to a close and another is beginning.

Anthropologist Arthur Turner captures the essence of liminality with the phrase Betwixt and Between.

Betwixt and Between – neither here nor there – that place between sixes and sevens. Uncomfortable and confusing, liminal space is the space between what was and what will be. It is, as Professor Neil Gillman so wonderfully describes, the Mezuzah moment** – neither entirely in, nor entirely out.

Liminality is often the dwelling place of one who loves G-d. With its fluid borders it is the place where Heaven and earth, life and death, joy and sorrow, ecstasy and despair, sleep and waking, commingle.

Poet, Shel Silverstein alludes to it thus: *

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends,
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow.
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

sidewalk ends*

The in-between liminal spaces of Scripture are filled with the possibilities of G-d:
Noah and his family rebuilding the world after the flood; Abraham holding the knife above Isaac; Jacob’s struggle with the angel; Joseph in the pit; Moses’ time in Midian; Moses and the Israelites at the edge of the Reed Sea; Israel in the wilderness; Joshua crossing the Jordan.
Scripture indeed is fraught with liminal moments – moments of imminent expectation, infused with both hope and doubt. Each of which leads to transformation and change.

Change involves tension and for those of us who have embarked on, or are seeking, a paradigm shift in thinking through the understanding and appreciation of the Hebraic mindset – we know that tension all too well. Often that tension comes in the form of a multitude of voices.

Here in The Liminal Space we strive to hear, contemplate, and dialogue for the sake of Heaven – guided by One voice.

Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it…” (Isaiah 30:21a)

Achar (behind you, in the background) is the Hebrew word used here. Combined with shema (hear/listen/obey) and davar (a word) this phrase is very telling.

G-d speaks to us through His Words. We truly ‘hear’ His Divrei Torah – words of Torah (teaching or instruction) when we study them, reflect on them, obey them.  The prophet Ezekiel spoke of that “voice” behind you — in the background:

Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me, “Blessed be the glory of the LORD in His place.” (Ezekiel 3:12)

That voice in the background – the Word of G-d.

For a people who want answers now and love absolutes, it is difficult to wait on the threshold; to be fluid – changing but not yet changed, and to live with the tension of ambiguity. Liminal space is a vulnerable place and it is a sacred space. Colored by twilight (that time between sunset and dusk and between dawn and sunrise), liminal space is the threshold to a new day or the dawn of a new light. In view of eternity, our life on this earth is but a limen, a threshold.


* Shel Silverstein – The Place Where The Sidewalk Ends
** A mezuzah is placed literally on the threshold of a door, marking the entrance of your home. Professor Neil Gillman wrote of liminality as Mezuzzah moments – not just marking the liminal moments but sanctifying them:

Mezuzzot mark the move from home to away,
Maariv the change to night from day;
Through the chuppa we pass, “alone” now “together,”
Havdalah – holy to ordinary

20 Responses

  1. Hi Cindy and Keren,

    I LOVE this idea! I feel like much of my life is lived in this liminal space. In fact, when I read this line, “it is difficult to wait on the threshold; to be fluid – changing but not yet changed, and to live with ambiguity”, I had to chuckle a knowing chuckle. Yes, to be changing, but not yet changed. To be entering, but have not yet entered. It takes wisdom, graciousness, peace, finesse. I think we all have much to learn about living in this space.

    1. Sarah I agree ♥︎ May our Abba grant us all the wisdom, graciousness, peace, finesse, patience (added that with thoughts of myself)… as we live and move in the liminal space.

      We are so excited about this new series and what a joy to have you join us here!

  2. Thanks for your encouraging response, Sarah! I also believe that much of our life is lived – one way or another – in this liminal space of endings and beginnings. All the wonder, beauty, blessing and challenge of life come together in this space. Blessings to you.

  3. This! Truly loved and was so stirred, as in, heart BURNING within me, reading this! Looking forward to what is to come… Thank you both for your faithfulness!

  4. Liminal Alignment
    Near with no fear, perfect love mine:
    Fallible, erring,brain; not aligned.
    In between in an earthen vessel,
    Judgment Day will blow the whistle!
    Blow, yes Breathe! O Voice of God! I’ve loved Your appearing!
    My Home’s with GOD!

  5. Your introduction to The Liminal Space is inspiring. I love this sentence ‘Scripture is fraught with liminal moments – moments of imminent expectation, infused with both hope and doubt, that lead to transformation and change.’ I am eagerly anticipating this series.

  6. Thank you so much for these words and for this new study! I love “that voice in the background – the Word of G-d” Beautiful! Studying so I can hear His Voice!

  7. Re-reading all these. Betwixt and Between is how I feel. In this world but not really in it. I feel so out of place and want to move on.

    1. I am reading this all again. I feel like a person who is about to lift one foot and move it up to the next step, my foots in the air and I am very uncomfortable with this place. I am torn with what I hear.

      1. Rena ~ this liminal space we live in needs revisiting, reviewing, reassessing constantly as we take each next step closer to Olam HaBa – the World to Come. Our comfort and strength lie in the knowledge that our Father God is right here with us encouraging each next step of faith as we climb higher.

  8. This is SO right! Left me in tears and I cannot wait to share it with young families struggling to hold on to the truth in the midst of intense opposition from family and friends! Thank you <3 <3 <3

    1. Bless you Nancy! The Truth, and Grace, and Love, of the Word of G-d is facing such opposition today…but He meets us in every liminal space we encounter…and, often , that is day by day. So grateful that He is our strength and our shield.

  9. The Father is encouraging us each step of the way as we climb higher each day, every hour, every moment. I was so encouraged by your teaching, the upward climb Karen. I painted a staircase for you reminding me when I look at it every day that life is an upward climb.

  10. Beautiful, poetic truth. It is a spiritual axis (Access) between heaven and earth. It is where my spirit man sojourns. Experiencing a moment of eternity.

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