I believe it was the Turners who first coined the phrase "liminal time," in which they talked about being in a time between time, when we are betwixt and between. Liminal, coming from the Latin word limen, means "threshold." Being in a liminal time means we are disconnected from our usual anchors, and we are receptive in liminal time to eternal truths that otherwise would elude us. Many pilgrims, and scholars of pilgrimage, point to the time of pilgrimage as such a time in which we are on the threshold of something new while leaving something old behind.
For me, the month of October is a month of liminality! Without much fore-planning for what would be happening in my life, I decided in July 2007 to go on pilgrimage to Santiago, wanting to finish the "trifecta" of Medieval European pilgrimages: Rome, Jerusalem, and Santiago de Compestela! I did not know at that time that I would also be moving out of the position as interim pastor of Ernest Myatt Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, and making way to be and live the School of the Pilgrim full-time...but that is exactly what happened! As one friend reminds me often, "Sometimes God does for us what we ourselves cannot do." Call this "God's timing!"
The month of October began with an extraordinarily powerful pilgrimage to Santiago de Compestela! I was reminded of the physicality of pilgrimage with blisters on both heels and three toes, carrying a 20 lb. back pack up and down hill. I remembered the connection of the pilgrim to the land, in awe of the misty mornings that would only allow a streak of Monet pink in the early morning horizon. I was thrust into the Medieval pilgrimage rituals as I watched the large incense burner, the botafumeiro, swinging across the transept of the Cathedral of St. James.
And in the middle of the month, I celebrated with great joy the work of God and God's people in a Presbyterian congregation called "Ernest Myatt Presbyterian Church." Though we have no saints in the Church per se, or name our churches after saints, the saints are spread liberally among the congregation of that Church. By November 1st, I will no longer be interim pastor at that church.
The month concludes with one more reminder of the liminal state of pilgrimage and pilgrim-life: I am running my third marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, in Washington, D.C., on October 28th. The blisters have healed well on my heels, and new toe nails have conveniently replaced the old black and blue nails. Marathons are pilgrimages of a different sort, because there is no back pack (physical), but an opportunity to run (or trot) and remember and muse upon what the Spirit is doing in our world today among the pilgrims who follow the Pilgrim God.
All in all, living the pilgrim life is to live life liminally...forever more!
Pilgrim peace, Brett