Friday, December 21, 2012

The Best of the Archives: Liminal Space

( This post first appeared in Seekerville on July 10, 2010.)

Have you ever gone through a period in life where the same theme, the same message keeps slapping you in the face? After six or seven slaps you finally realize, "Hey, someone is trying to tell me something."

The theme of closed doors and open windows has been on my subconscious a lot of late.

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the lif
e that is waiting for us" ~ Joseph Campbell

Since I first sold,  I have been experiencing some real difficulties in understanding where I should be on this writing journey. My compass is swirling and I haven't figured out how to incorporate the many areas of my life into these new developments.

That was when I literally stumbled upon the concept of liminal space.

Psychologists call "liminal space," a place where boundaries dissolve a little and we stand there, on the threshold, getting ourselves ready to move across the limits of what we were into what we are to be. (definition from parole)

Think of liminal space as the place where you arrive after you leave one room and have not yet entered another. The space between the closed door and open window.

The concept of liminal space and thresholds isn't simply scary. It's terrifying.

So, why is liminal space so important? Because it allows us to arrive at the place of transformation and you cannot experience transformation unless you let go.

To let go you need faith.

David Jensen says this in a sermon on liminal space:

"I'm going to show the courage not to retreat back to what was and I'm going to be patient not to jump into what I think ought to be, but I'm going to stand in liminal space. I am going to trust that as I stand on the threshold it is pregnant with the possibilities of God."

Let go of the comfortable and familiar and be willing to embrace the uncomfortable and the unfamiliar...the possibilities.

Standing in liminal space isn't about jumping off the cliff into the unknown, it's about embracing the cliff.

Can you hang in the that space of change, and embrace it, waiting on the threshold-- waiting for your life to meet you?

I'm ready.

I've stopped trying to make my old journey fit my new destination, instead I'm sitting on the cliff peacefully waiting for what's to come.

"For we which have believed do enter into rest.." Hebrews 4:3

What about you?

 I'd also like to add that this post is so apropos as this week I moved from Colorado to Arizona. Talk about liminal space. Quit my day job and packed up the office and here I am. I left Denver with a winter coat on and knit scarf around my neck, and here I sit in my new office with a tangerine tree outside my window -and they're ripe too!


Comment today for an opportunity to win a 10 page critique for a writer and for a reader, a Kindle or print  edition of Sandra Leesmith's release from Montlake, Current of Love. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


  1. Hi Tina:

    You wrote this over two years ago:

    “Since I first sold, I have been experiencing some real difficulties in understanding where I should be on this writing journey. My compass is swirling and I haven't figured out how to incorporate the many areas of my life into these new developments.”

    Can you give us an update? Are you still clinging to the cliff? Is your compass still swirling? Liminal space makes me think of Limbo.

    Since I read this post the first time I have come to think of liminal space as not being spacial but rather being temporal. It is like a time dialation. I don’t see it as the distance between doors and windows. I see it as the time you stand in wonder of a change that is happening to you and your world.

    I felt this very strongly when I did my 10th NaNo this year. When I started writing, it occurred to me that 50,000 words was no longer a big deal. I had done it about seven times already and all of those times 50K was not enough words to even finish the novel I was writing.

    What had once seemed like a killer of a marathon now, in those few moments, became just another thing I could do. This LS experience is a time when you first noitice that your world and your thinking has changed. It’s not like you deliberly changed it. It just happened while you were there observing.

    Can you recall many such moments when you could experience your world shifting into a new reality? Did that take space or did it take time?

    I’m not sure I am comfortable with the image of waiting for change. I want to do the changing. In a way, waiting feels like hoping to win a lottery that you did not enter.


    Late night thoughts.


    I’d like to enter the 10-page critique. It would be welcome contest prep. : )

  2. I've never heard of Limenel space (I know I spelled that wrong:)

    So, Tina, you quit your day job. Does this mean you'll be writing full time, or are you taking a new day job in Arizona?...So glad you made it to your new home safely. And just in time to spend your first Christmas there.

    I'm a writer and a reader so I'd love to be entered for either of the prizes offered today.

    It's a stormy Friday here in NC. Not Christmas weather at all :)

  3. Hi Tina!

    So glad you made it to Arizona safely. I'd love to hear more about why you moved to Arizona?

    Are you going to pursue writing full time?

    I never heard of liminal space before this post.

    Very interesting. I feel like I'm on the cliff of some major changes in my life, and I hope to be transformed in a way pleasing to God.

    Thanks for sharing, and please toss my name in the hat. Thanks!

    Jackie L.

  4. Whoa, Tina, earlier this week people were talking about you traveling, but somewhere in my busy-with-Christmas-preparations mind I figured you were traveling to see people for the holidays. Congrats on your move. Talking about change and all... A tangerine tree outside your window, how cool is that! You gotta get Sandra's orange bread recipe so you can try making that too (or can't that be made with tangerines? Not quite sure what the difference is...).

    I hadn't heard of liminal space either, but I love the concept. Sort of in between. The most difficult part for me would be not to plunge into what you think ought to be. Or rather, pray for what you think ought to be. Like: this is the plan, God, and you can help me make it happen... LOL!

    Therefore, I love what you said, Tina, about embracing the cliff, the moment where you're ready for the big thing, but you're not pushing when it should happen, how it should happen. That gives a lot of peace! Thanks for repeating this post!

    Oh, and like Vince, I would like to know how you moved on from when you first posted this. New doors, windows and cliffs, I suppose? :)

    Merry Christmas in your new home and office!


  5. Vince,
    I'm mulling about what you said: hoping to win a lottery that you did not enter. Like you, I hate waiting for change, and wanna make it happen myself. But when I read your lottery comment, I thought: I guess with God you CAN win a lottery you did not enter. I mean, sometimes he can give you things you didn't even ask for, or didn't even know you needed. Or things you gave up on waiting for a long time ago. So... today I'm extra grateful for knowing a God who can let you win a lottery you never even entered! Thanks for that!


  6. Congratulations on your move, Tina! And have a very merry christmas without snow.

    I get the idea of the liminal space. You can get some rest/refreshment while you're there or you can feel as if you're in prison waiting for parole. What you do during that time can make a difference. It's so individual.

  7. Tina, this is a timely repost.

    Standing on a cliff isn't easy, especially when I'm afraid of heights. One wrong step and I may never hit bottom. :)

    Congratulations on the move.


    YOU'RE IN ARIZONA!!!!!!!!!

    HAPPY DANCING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    woo hoo Tina. So glad you made it safely. I'm so excited. Now I need to get back to Arizona so I can come visit.

    We are with family in California so I will see you next year for sure.

    HAPPY DANCING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Glynna, another Seeker in Arizona. Two Tinas. I know Ann is happy also. woo hooooooooo

  9. Tina, I'm so glad you arrived safely in AZ! I guess now, you can pack away your scarf and winter coat for good, eh? :)

    This post resonated with me. Liminal space--the place where I first need to let go of the familiar, what I know and keep my faith in God for His best plan for my life. For this uber-palnner, it can be a difficult thing to do. But God's plan is always best for my life. I trust Him in that. And, I know it is the best thing I can do on this writing journey. You've given me some good pondering food for these next few days.

    Enjoy your tangerine tree, Tina! We may have a white Christmas here. :)

    Oh, please put me in for the drawing for a critique. Merry Christmas!

  10. Good morning Tina thanks for your info on Liminal space, never had heard of this before and always like to learn new things. I like the thought of there being a time when you are between things, anticipating something new.
    My hubby has decided he wants to move and we are comtemplaing where?? I have family in Tx and Ky and he has some in Fl and Tn-but we may just move where no one is and start a new part of our lives with new folks-we are seniors and know that life as we know it may not be too many more years ahead for us.
    I am an avid reader so would love Sandra's book should I be lucky enough to win...
    The talk of God giving us what we need or want and usually more then we would have thought of is a wonderful thought and made me smile,his grace is sufficient for ALL our needs and wants...
    Happy Birthday Jesus..

    Paula O

  11. i've read Sandra's Price of Victory, and would love the next one. Next year in Arizona we should have a seekerville dinner. i don't expect to be there this winter,(though Mom's doctor gave his blessing for February) but God willing, next winter. Where in Arizona are you? i suspect south of Flagstaff, but either in the Phoenix area or maybe Tucson. Thanks for reprinting this post. i need to remember to wait patiently on the Lord.


  12. I'm a little in awe of the fact that you've just moved and your office is in such an organized state that you can actually sit and look out the window while you put this blog up!!!

    I think I find this idea of liminal space comforting. It's a safe wondering kind of challenge would be not to linger there longer then I'm meant to. (hope that makes sense)!

    Envious of the tangerine tree today. We're in a major snowstorm and though the school buses aren't running our schools remain open so I had to make the trek into suburbia on the city buses. It's beautiful but so treacherous to walk through.

  13. From snowy mountains to tangerines... Congratulations, Tina!

    A twist on Campbell's quote describes my current state: "We must be willing to let go of the life we are living, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us." I'm discovering how true this is and how painful a process it can be. Those caterpillars turned butterflies get major respect.

  14. Mmm Tangerines! Yum.

    Glad to hear there really IS an Arizona! (daft reference to a song... lol)

    I grew up in the military, so change is something I've grown accustomed I'm embracing the cliff. :)

    Lovely post.
    Please enter me for the chance to win a print edition of Current of Love. :)

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

    Have a blessed first day of Winter!!


    VINCE. Good questions.

    It's not about clinging to the cliff..but EMBRACING THE CLIFF.

    We humans tend to think in terms of our timing. But as you know, God's timing is vastly different. So while I know it seems like I should be out of liminal space-but I'm not.

    And you know what?? I am really excited about it. As you said, it is a time of wonder and huge, anticipation.

  16. C.E. There really is a Winslow, Arizona...we played the Eagles song when we started our trip. Ha.

  17. Patricia, you are so WRITE (PUN INTENDED).

  18. Wow, there are alot of Seekers and friends in AZ. We'll have to have a get together at some point.

  19. Wonderful thought-provoking post, Tina! When we let go and let God, each day is an adventure.

    Terrific to know you're in your new digs, gazing out the window at a tree of ripe tangerines. Snow is swirling outside my window, but the ground is warm so it's not piling up. Yet.

    God bless you as you wait to see what He will do in the new year.

    Hugs, Janet

  20. YAY, TINA!!! So glad you made it safely to Arizona! What an exciting time in your life!

    Hubby and I have actually moved twice during the Christmas season. It's a whole different experience. The second time we were also trying to organize our daughter's December 18 wedding!

    Love this post on liminal space, then and now. It's so fun looking through the archives, remembering where we were . . . taking note of how far we've come. This is a journey that constantly presents us with new twists, turns, and bumps in the road.

    No turning back now!

  21. The grapefruits are almost ripe too.

    It seems a waste not to eat them all. So I guess I am on a fruit diet now. LOL.

  22. Glad you arrived safely. I have Sandra;s book so don't enter me,(please excuse errors typing one handed as wrist is nuw in splint. seems the 3rd dr says its muscular! but after 3 weeks i am almost completely pain free) cant sleep with the splint yet but pain free!

  23. Hi Tina:

    In honor of your safe arrival:

    “Lighten up while you still can
    don't even try to understand
    Just find a place to make your stand
    and take it easy

    Well, I'm a standing on a corner
    in Winslow, Arizona
    and such a fine sight to see
    It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed
    Ford slowin' down to take a look at me.”


    Did you know that you can actually have your picture taken in Winslow with that girl in the flatbed Ford? I wanted to stop to have a picture taken but my wife wouldn’t have it. “That’s not even a real girl,” she said. I said, “I know, ‘she ain't no kid. That's a cocktail waitress in a Dolly Parton wig’.”

    Did you know that the Confederate Railroad passed through Winslow?


    P.S. We had a German Shepherd in Pasadena who would eat one avocado a day from our single tree. Watch your pets, if you have any.

  24. I thought I'd pop in quickly during a break from my baking today, but it's never a quick stop in Seekerville, is it?

    So glad you made it safely, Tina! We've moved twice during the Christmas holidays - it's quite an experience. Just remember this: you can decorate next year :)

    That concept of Liminal space is new to me - well, not the concept, but the term. It seems like I've lived in Liminal space all my life, and you're right about embracing it. There are things you can do in this time that you won't be able to do once you pass on to the next thing.

    So use the time to contemplate, plan, catch up, gather your forces and energy - and then launch through that window! Make the most of the time God has given you :)

    Enjoy a tangerine for me! I'm off to wash dishes...I think fudge with walnuts is next on my baking list...

  25. Liminal space....hmmm....I hadn't heard of this but this must be where we are right now in considering whether to retire now or wait two more years. We've been thinking of this decision as dangling from a rope off a cliff....not knowing if the drop is 100 feet or 5 feet. So..... if we can embrace the cliff, God will reveal what He has waiting for us. And we need to trust that faith.

    Thank you for defining where we are right now!

    And when in Winslow I recommend a visit to La Posada---a renovated Fred Harvey Hotel filled with history, art and hidden places to write. The Turquoise Room, located in the former "lunch counter" space, is my perfect restaurant...casual, serving local food with a view of trains going by. My WIP involves train travel and Harvey Girls.

    Welcome to the Southwest! Or the southern-southwest depending on what you consider Colorado. We've lived in Colorado but currently live in New Mexico. All beautiful!

  26. Wow! Thoughtful post, Tina--thank you for sharing this (again *smile*). Praying for you as you get settled in your new home. Enjoy those tangerines--YUM!!
    Hugs, Patti Jo

  27. Great post, Tina.
    congrats on the move.
    My usual 'boundaries' are set with family and work, but the lesser-visualized boundaries of my heart are moving and changing. Trying to sort those out and just...wait.

    Thanks for the reminder :-)


  28. Word of the day (I just made it up) in honor of the Mayans.

    Karma-Geddon, if you are bad, the world will come around and CRUSH YOU!

  29. Tina is in Arizona picking oranges out of her back yard.
    I ice skated to work today.

    IS THIS FAIR!!???????

  30. Sherida! I noticed you were in Arizona!

    Thanks for the tip.

  31. Pepper! Are you over your move yet? All unpacked??

  32. Embrace the cliff.
    I like this.
    I'm such a stinking coward. Can I embrace the cliff whilst hiding under my back porch? It's quiet under there. Chilly, but so so so so so so safe.

  33. You are so right, Myra.

    Sign seen in store window..

    Happiness is not a destination, it's a way of life.

  34. Fair??? Hello? I've lived in Buffalo, NY,-Tulsa, OK and Denver, CO.


  35. Whatcha baking, Jan? My sister lives here and is baking for me. Pumpkin bread, and cookies. All I have to do is go out and buy the expandomatic pants.

  36. Hey, Tina!!! I've been thinking about you, wondering if you miss the snow!
    Lately, what has God been trying to tell me? Hmm. Lately it's trust, a common one in the last ten years, since I started writing.
    About to watch While You Were Sleeping, Mary Connealy's favorite movie, with my awesome daughters! :-)

  37. Hi Viv:

    My mother, who lived in California, would buy us kids lottery tickets from time to time. We did not have a lottery at that time in Oklahoma so I would hope I would win. I never did. So I could have won the lottery without entering it but someone had to enter it for me.

    This brings up an old joke that preachers like to tell in church. I’ve heard it more than once in church.

    A very religious man used to pray everyday to win the lottery. This went on for years but he never won anything. Eventually the man grew despondent and prayed with all his soul, “Please Lord, I am a faithful servant. What do I have to do to win the lottery?” At this point a voice came down from the heavens and said, “Give me some help here. At least buy a lottery ticket”.

    Sometimes too much faith blinds us to what we could be doing to help ourselves. Another preacher liked to tell of the man who fell into a well and prayed very loudly for help. During the day three different people looked down the well and asked if they could help. The man just said no that God would get him out. The next morning, the man still in the well, prayed, “God I’ve been praying with all my heart continuously for 24 hours and I’m still here.” Another voice came down from heaven, “What’s the problem, I sent three different people there to get you out.”

    God wants us to be victorious and proactive.


  38. Hi Tina:

    You wrote:

    “Fair??? Hello? I've lived in Buffalo, NY,-Tulsa, OK and Denver, CO.”

    And somehow you think this equals one winter in Nebraska? Get real! Mary’s right.


    P.S. Ceasar said to the soothsayer who had warned him about the Ides of March:

    “The Ides have come but I’m still here.”

    “Yes, the Ides have come but they have not gone.”

  39. Nooooo.

    Buffalo, NY, learning to parallel park against six foot snow banks that don't melt for six months.

    Tulsa, Oklahoma ice storm on Christmas and my turkey sitting on the back porch.

    Denver, Colorado, living off my gas grill for four days due to no power as snow is so heavy the trees knocked them down.

    Nope, I win.

  40. I love Vinnie teaching Jack the hero about LEANING in that movie, Melly.


  41. Hi Tina:

    You may claim victory but have you considered this: there are places in Nebraska (and other states) that are so far from anything that they are the equivalent of being snow bound 365 days a year. The Buffalo Bills, the Denver Broncos, Oklahoma Thunder, and all manner of amenities? Look at the whole package…not just the weather report.


  42. Vince, Vince, Vince. The fact that they don't have amenities or roads doesn't mean they have it tougher than me. In fact they are probably much more self sufficient than I am.

    AND in fact this is one of the reasons Mary Connealy is so prolific. Just her and the cows. No Starbucks, Panera, movie theaters, malls etc to distract her.

    I am a city girl.

    Did I mention I juiced my own orange juice today? Since I am being random, I thought I would toss that in.

    I am currently in the process of drafting a letter to Martha Stewart to find out what to do with grapefruit skins. Any idea??

  43. I forgot Annie Rains is in NC. I have family there. Rain beats snow.

    I quit but eventually will have to get a day job. For a bit I will be writing full time.

  44. Now Tina: if you would just move out to the country (and I mean the real country), where you can get some serious writing done, then you’d be able to feed those grapefruit skins to the pigs. No need to write Martha Stewart. You could write chapter six instead.

  45. Pigs eat grapefruit skins? Who knew?

    Thanks all for the well wishes.

    My office is named. There is nothing in it but a computer, on the floor, Kav.

    The movers come tomorrow. Don't give me too much credit.

  46. Unpacked!
    And we finally got our cars in the garage...just before our first dusting of snow. :-)

    I still have 3 rooms left to de-wallpaper, putty, sand, and paint, but I have 8 rooms behind me. YAY!
    It's been a particularly stressful semester at work, so the writing has been slower than I like - HAVE to feed the paying job, first.

    I'm SOOOOOO glad you get to write full-time for a while. WHAT A BLESSING!!!!

  47. Tina, I cannot imagine leaving the beauty of Colorado's snow capped mountains for the sleek, desert like panorama of Arizona. Although, northern Arizona has some mountains, it's not quite the same. BUT, having a tangerine tree right outside your window? How cool is that? Glad you made it safe. :)

    Pepper, you moved too?? Don't tell me you left the picturesque smoky mountains? No job is worth that!


  48. Thank you for this, Tina. This is just where I am right now. We went through a hellacious year this year with my husband's stroke and all the attendant financial and emotional stress and adjustments. God (praise Him!) has been alongside us all the way and seen us through moments I never thought we would survive. Now we are facing more upheaval as we look forward to one college and one high school graduation (within 2 weeks of each other!), our 25th anniversary, the likelihood of our first major home move in 12 years and also a possible job change. And for the first time I am able to look at all of this with calm and not trepidation.

    I am a type-A personality, never satisfied unless I have every possible situation under iron control. But for the first time in my life I have been able to sit back and just deal with things day by day, and think, "God, you have gotten us through the worst mess I could ever have devised this year. All I had to do was trust You day by day. So I'm going to trust now that, when the time comes, you will put us where we need to be." It's the most freeing feeling in the world.

    Thank you all for your support and inspiration this past year. I haven't been able to comment much but I've still been here every day. God bless you all with a lucky 2013!

  49. Hey, Whitney, so good to see you.

    Interesting that you can see foothills and palm trees at the same time here.

  50. Whitney,
    Just moved to our own house...a few miles from the manse/parsonage.
    I'm JUST FINE with God keeping me in the Blue Ridge as long as he wants :-)


    What a year you've had. One day at a time. That's is my lesson in all this as well.

  52. It is now Saturday and it is the first full day of winter - and real winter has finally come along. Snowing blowing drifting in upstate!

    Tina, I didn't read this post on Friday but I had my liminal moment last night. I've been coasting for too long. This is my new year's day in effect. Thanks for the pep talk.

    You will still need that winter jacket --when your blood thins out and 50 seems like 30.

  53. when you let go of what you think you want and let God have contol of your life,everything else will fall into place!

  54. Wow, I'm moving next year to Tucson, Arizona. I am in Florida now, (for 7 years), and originally from New York. God gives us so many surprises. I hope you are happy there. I have a feeling I will be, too! Maybe we can all get togeher!
    Linda Cacaci

  55. Okay, it's Dec 24, so I'm a TAD late, but let me say how much I appreciate this post, Tina. Liminal space has intrigued me for some time . . . it seems more often than not, once you discover this concept, you end up "going there" or "being there" more and more often. The discomfort can rest there, knowing everything's okay.

    For someone who wants to KNOW, to see the instructions written out in black and white, trust me --this marks a gigantic leap. Thanks for sharing,

    Gail Kittleson