Thursday, December 07, 2006

Re-creating liminal spaces.

Whilst struggling with: prayer, worship, pastoral care (both giving and receiving), a few things have occured to me.

There are times in our lives and things that we do that occur in a kind of liminal space. A kind of in between place that is real at the time, perhaps very profound, or meaningful, but it is just that, a between place. These liminal moments are a one off and cannot be repeated and often our attempts to re-create them will be fruitless and or disappointing. And what I've learned from this is that out of these liminal moments we must make new and fresh expressions of them not try to re-create them. Imagine for a moment you are an artist, the oil painting you create is a one off masterpiece, (even if no-one else can see it!) It has been created out of your heart, Any attempt to repaint the same picture will not be the same and a copy or print is just not quite the same as an oil painting. The creation of the original art is a liminal moment.

We often have the same problem with our spiritual lives, when we are struggling we spend our time longing and searching to re-create a previous encounter with God that was profound or meaningful, instead of creating a fresh and new relationship with Him for every moment. This may be because its hard, but then no-one ever said it was an easy journey free from trials and pain, and why should it be!! Our saviour's journey was hardly free from trials and pain, yet it is through Christ's trials and pain that we can and should renew our relationhiip with God.

This problem also occurs in our worship sometimes. That visit to Iona, Easter People, or a particularly moving Taize service, or the service at the end of a quiet retreat, in some respects are liminal moments and one of our problems is that we want to re-create this for our congregations, I question whether this is possible and instead what we should be doing is creating a new expereince. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't use the resources we have picked upthrough our own worship - I believe of course we should, they are often a rich and full of beautiful language, but we should be creating a new space out of those resources not trying to re-create a previous experience.

So I suppose I must try and learn to celebrate the liminal moments in life, be grateful to God for what I an learn from them, Stand in awe at the created art as it were. but not try to re-create it. Instead try to use each encounter with God as a new and fresh expression of my faith and when my faith is weak, it doesn't mean I have to search for God, in a previous encounter. I can meet Him where I am, even when that feels completely inadequate to be His servant. God only fully knows what's in my heart.


At 8:44 PM, Blogger PamBG said...

Wow, Dawn!

Amen, sister.

This blew me away and is just what I needed at the moment.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Simon C said...

Thank you Dawn, I think this is a very valuable insight that applies to the whole range of human activity. The attempt to hold on to or recreate a particular experience or emotion is potentially very harmful. It can be a vain 'chasing after wind' (in the words of Qoholeth,) leading to frustration and dissatisfaction. Worse still it can lead to a spiral of sin and despair as you do things you know are wrong in a doomed attempt to keep hold of something 'special'.

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Sally said...


At 8:23 PM, Blogger Gary A said...

People asked me why the preaching at our local church isn't as good as at Spring Harvest. What I want to know is, why isn't the congregation as good?

At 10:33 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Very well said and I happen to be an artist and totally get what you are saying on both levels! Now all you need to do is discover more about prayer as it is expressed in our daily lives. In fact just living is a prayer but so many of us never give glory to God in that way, we try to be busy with prayer times etc etc etc and sometimes forget that just living a normal day without any 'Church type' christian elements can be more beautiful to God than a thousand words! Read more Thomas Merton to find out more!


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