faith, Pandemic Wisdom

Still In-Between And Not Happy About It

The global pandemic continues. We are still mourning what was and all we lost. Even as I watch Netflix, I grieve when I see crowds, hugs, people sharing meals, a busy NYC, people jumping in and out of cabs and more.

And then there is what will be. I wish it was more like a bargaining exercise…where we can say, I’ll give you a shelter in place May plus a light summer in exchange for a normal football season and the holidays as they always were. Deal!

Unfortunately this is not working out with those kinds of deals or even any kind of clarity. I don’t like it when people say We will never get back to life as we knew it pre-Covid. I want to stick my fingers in my ears and start singing when they talk like that. We are in the horribly uncomfortable land of No One Knows.

Some things are getting harder with some businesses opening up; people testing their luck and bravery on restaurant patios, inside dining, retail and public spaces opening back up. We have started receiving invitations to small gatherings and little trips. My hairstylist checked in to see if I wanted a cut and highlights…oh my the agony that caused me, deciding between hair and health.

At our house, we have decided to keep being cautious and careful. We have many reasons for this. Sometimes we have to recite them reduntantly to one another because we want so badly to return to life as it was.

I do not like being caught between two worlds. I hate losing what was. I am not good at embracing what will be, especially when I don’t know what that looks like.

Theologian Richard Rohr has reminded me this week of the term Liminal Space…which is another way of talking about the space in-between two worlds. It is undefined, uncertain and has no clear end point. It is the place between the world we knew and the one to come.

Rohr writes, We usually enter liminal space when our former way of being is challenged or changes–perhaps when we lose a job or a loved one, during illness, at the birth of a child, or a major relocation. It is a graced time, but often does not feel ‘graced’ in any way. In such space we are not certain or in control. This global pandemic we now face is an example of an immense, collective, liminal space.

The very vulnerability and openness of this time allows room for something genuinely new to happen. We are empty and receptive–erased tablets waiting for new words. (Richard Rohr Daily Meditations, Center for Action and Contemplation)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel as pure or new as a tablet waiting for new words. I feel erased but badly so…lots of smudges, torn paper and faint tear-stained remnants of former plans and expectations of what would be. On that messy page, I might accept a new word or two but it is going to probably be begrudgingly and with a bad attitude.

This liminal space thing sounds great but is actually awkward, uncomfortable and unpleasant filled with fear, irritability and angst. I believe with all my heart that God can and will do a new thing and that resurrection always comes from loss and death, but I do not have to like it.

I feel like an angry, cocooned caterpillar, disliking the stuffiness and confinement of this liminal space and pretty sure that I will not like one thing about becoming a butterfly. Who needs beautiful wings or the ability to fly when you enjoyed the fat cushy comfort of scooching along eating juicy green leaves?

In the devotional book, Jesus Calling, we are invited to stop our excessive planning which gets in the way of our trust in God. (4-24-20 entry) My excessive planning has been halted all on its own due to this virus and all the unknowns. I’ve stopped because it is impossible to plan anything right now except maybe another at home meal with uncertain ingredients.

In the uncomfortable in-between space, we surrender. We let go. We trust. Not because we like it, but because we must. Here, we wait. Knowing, because of our faith, that even in the dark, the uneasy and unseen, God is at work on the new. Especially in the dark, God works.

God, I would like to register a complaint. I do not like this, not one little bit. The old was fine with me, the new seems scary and far away. I do, however, trust You and I know that you are faithful beyond my wildest imaginings. Help me to trust you in the in-between, I cannot do it on my own. I need Your help. Amen

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor. You can hear her each week on the Jesus Calling Prayer Call Tuesday mornings at 7 a.m. CST or on the recording she posts on Facebook. See for details about the weekly prayer call, upcoming speaking events and to sign up for her monthly Inner Circle emails.

6 thoughts on “Still In-Between And Not Happy About It”

  1. To hear from a woman so devoted and faithful ,that she wants to register a complaint with God. This gave me such a boost of confidence! He will always be there, and He will always listen.

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