The word “liminal” means threshold. The liminal space is the “crossing over” or transition space.
I was first introduced to the concept by my friend, Rabbi Rony Keller, Congregation Beth Israel’s former associate rabbi. He said it is always there — the space between where we’re going and from where we’ve come. Liminal spaces exist all around us, but how we recognize and sanctify them is up to us.
In Jewish tradition, we mark doorways with mezuzot where they reside neither in the home nor outside it. There is also the chuppah. A couple enters it unmarried and exits married. The transformation occurs in its holy space. The Havdalah service is another example. Havdalah is the ritual to separate the Sabbath from the rest of the week. Utilizing four blessings and three objects (wine, spices and a twisted candle), we transition from the holiness of Shabbat into the mundane of our regular week. Havdalah is liminal, because it lies between.
As a result of this pandemic, we are all now in a liminal space between what was (prior to stay-at-home orders) and what will be (on the other side of the pandemic).
We were forced into an unknown and unpredictable way of life. As a self-professed control enthusiast, I struggled at first with the idea. Then I decided to lean into it.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, I was traveling a couple of times of month for at least five to eight days. At home I had early morning meetings and sometimes in the evenings too. After dinner, I reviewed emails and/or made phone calls that I wasn’t able to get to during the day, and then I would wake up and do it all over again. Each day was different, but each day brought a new set of challenges to be overcome.
Now I start my day by going on morning walks. I was doing this prior to the pandemic, but now I am going on much longer walks, sometimes alone with my thoughts, other times listening to podcasts or returning phone calls from the day before. Our dog Lacey lets me know when she’s had enough, and after taking her home, I go out for another hour or more.
Another amazing benefit is I feel a deeper connection now than ever before with my lifelong partner and love of my life, Susie. We have been empty-nesters for some time, but now we are together 24/7, which has reminded us why we fell in love and wanted to share our lives together in the first place — so now we are doing just that.
When faced with challenges, we have a choice: either get lost in them or decide to navigate them. In a strange way, I am somewhat grateful for this pandemic. I feel like I am a better husband, dad, son and leader because if it.
I choose gratitude and joy every single day — especially on the hard days. I am grateful for being in an essential business, and really loving the work that we do at Cypress HomeCare Solutions. Dave Hollis’ quote, “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to,” speaks to me.
Now that we are keenly aware that the people most vulnerable to losing their lives to COVID-19, are those people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity, I hope we follow the advice of Dr. David Katz, epidemiologist and founding director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, who said we should use this time at home to work on taking better care of ourselves. He recommends that there should be a national health-promotion campaign to encourage people to improve their diets and lifestyle before they become infected.
As we transition out of this liminal space, you must decide whether to return to what used to be your normal life or make changes. Take time in this liminal space to decide what you want to become. The decision is yours. JN