Thursday, March 17

Standing on the threshold

Last night was Vespers backed up by the adult group watching one of the talks from the Emerging Church series. 

In place of a standard homily, the combined liturgy committees decided to invite speakers from the community to share about different social causes being championed in the area.  Last night, it was a social worker who is associated with an NGO that provides a market for products made by Ugandan widows.  One thing she mentioned is how very scary and wonderful her world became when she surrendered control and let the Spirit run things.

From there, I go to Suzanne Stabile, spending an hour talking about 'liminal space'.  I must admit I don't like the term.  Like so much of the Emerging Church stuff, it's couched in modern pseudo-business psycho-babble which clouds the issues far more than they need to be.  'Liminal space' is the threshold, that point when things are in transition.  It is the place of 'becoming', the dawn which is the bridge between night and day.  As Suzanne says, 'betwixt and between'.  That brings me to the image above.

In the historical re-enactment group I was in, some folk had yurts.  A yurt has a cosmological significance, representing all the known world within it and the unknown world without.  Within is comfort, warmth and family.  Outside is the cold, wind and predators.  One of the most disrespectful things you can do is to stand on the threshold, bridging that gap between the known and unknown...the 'kin' and the 'other'.  And yet, that is precisely where Richard Rohr, Stabile (and myself) argue that God wants us to do (metaphorically).

On that edge where we are outside of our comfort zone, beyond the forms and customs which define the 'kin' and on the margins of what we know.  It is there, betwixt the comfortable, if antiquated, past and the brave, new future is the power of transformation.  That is where the Spirit lies and moves.  It is where we are least comfortable, for we have come to grips with 'ye olde ways' not working while not yet understanding what the 'new hotness' is (let alone that it really doesn't exist yet).

There is a great tradition of spiritual leaders going into that go 'outside' and find transformation.  Whether it is Siddhartha's Bodhi tree, Christ's 40 days in the wilderness or Gandhi's time in Natal.  They were all put out of their comfort zone and held there long enough for things to change inside of them.  Then, they came back to 'civilization' and changed what was outside of them.

It is no secret that what has worked in the past, religiously, culturally, economically and politically...none of them are presently inadequate.  Change must and WILL occur, even if that change is catastrophic in nature.  Mayhap by standing on the threshold, we can collectively be changed within so that we can become the change we wish to see in the world.

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