Posted by: DCox | February 23, 2009

All Transformation takes place in Liminal Space

That’s the title of a chapter from Richard Rohr’s book, Adam’s Return.

I’m grateful for this time of testing; a time of transition between jobs. The leave taking from M:MM was painful, and being unemployed is stressful – not knowing when I’ll be employed next and the financial adjustments that accompany loss of income. Yet, the time has been a gift. I’ve been given the opportunity to gradually think outside of the box about myself and work. It’s been freeing.

thresholdThe Latin word limen means “threshold.” Liminality is an inner state and sometimes an outer situation where people can begin to think and act in genuinely new ways. It is when we are betwixt and between, have left one room but not yet entered the next room, and hiatus between states of life, stages of faith, jobs, loves, or relationships. It is that graced time when we are not certain or in control, when something genuinely new can happen. We are empty, receptive, an erased tablet waiting for new words.

The bubble of usual order has to be broken by a bit of whimsy, holy uselessness, deliberate disruption or displacement, learning to walk in the opposite direction. In liminal space we sometimes need to not-do and not-perform according to our usual successful patterns. We actually need to fail, fast, and deliberately falter to understand the other dimension of life…In liminal space we descend and intentionally do not immediately come back out or up…and later reenter the world with freedom and freshness. – Adam’s Return

I think the key to finding liminal space is more than just stepping into an extended time of solitude — for if we know what we are returning to, the time isn’t disruptive. For most of us, liminal space arrives through crisis or transition. We need the gift of being out of control if for no ohter reason than it allows us to lessen the notion of our own self-importance.


  1. This oncept is deep in Jewish spirituality. Once the limina is entered, you will never be the same. The entering into the limina is an act of courage, to cross the threshhold, realizing that you will never be the same once the threshold has been crossed. A bit scary, but also exciting, knowing that change is inevitable when we come in contact with the divine.


%d bloggers like this: