The month of March always seems long to me. The weather is more spring like, but the rains keep coming. It is no longer winter, but it is not summer yet. It is a time of transition. Do you know the word “liminal”? It means: relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process or occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.
The season of Lent always feels like a liminal season to me. We are done with the delight of Christmas and the light of Epiphany, but we are not yet to the joy of Easter. It is a season of transition, of moving from one experience of God to another. And it is a great reminder that God is with us in all the seasons of our lives. God is with us in the dark and lonely times as well as the light and happy times, and God is using the difficult times to get to us, to change us, to shape us in ways that we would not choose, if given the choice.
Oftentimes, it is pain that causes change. For God to change us, God will not shy away from using the Holy 2×4. (Now, not all pain, not all illness and hardship are God’s initiative; we often cause our own problems, or they are caused by what society has sanctioned, but God can use even those things to connect to us, and deepen his relationship with us.)
The liminal times in our lives are difficult and they are uncomfortable; we are off balance and are not sure what the future holds. You know this. All major life transitions are turning points, liminal moments when life can take us in many different directions. Some seem hopeful, like marriage, births, moves, retirement, but others we face with trepidation and often regrets and guilt, like death, divorce, health issues, loss of a relationship, and job loss.
But if God is with us in these liminal seasons, then they are seasons of gratitude regardless of the situation. The Apostle Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). We don’t just endure the hard time, we don’t just tolerate the bitter days, we give thanks in them. That may seem crazy some days. But it is not. It is an act of faith. God will not leave you in the liminal moments of your life any more than God would leave Jesus in the tomb.
The word Lent, comes from an Anglo-Saxon word lencten, meaning spring. A season of promise. And God is really good at fulfilling promises.
Blessings to you as you make your way through Lent as well as the other liminal seasons of your life.