Friday, December 30, 2022

In This Time of Liminal Space

I recently came across a meme that declared that because “the days between Christmas and New Year’s are a liminal space,” we should feel free to “lose track of time [and] spend all day in [our] pyjamas.”

Aside from the classism of this advice (after all, not everyone has the luxury of time-off between Christmas and New Year’s) I must admit I find myself drawn to the idea of liminal space – an in-between time wherein one can pause, realign, refocus, and prepare for what’s next.

I feel very fortunate to have both this week and next week off work. I purposely arranged for this some time ago as I really want to do all those things that liminal spaces invite us to do – whether I stay in my pyjamas or not!

This past year has been a challenging one for me. Much of it was spent dealing with often debilitating sciatic pain. I also have a dear friend who has been experiencing both physical and mental health challenges. In responding to my friend’s crisis, I’ve extended much time, energy, and money in supporting him. In time, it also meant undertaking the challenging tasks of holding space and setting boundaries.

Perhaps I should have known 2022 was going to be a challenging year when on its very first day I tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully my symptoms were mild and I made a complete recovery. That’s how I’ve decided to look at all the various challenges I’ve encountered this year: in a spirit of gratitude.

Yes, my experience of sciatica was awful and frequently debilitating, but it has made me more aware of, and empathetic toward, those who live with chronic pain. In addition, the surgery I had in August ended my experience of chronic pain. So, yes, I am choosing to focus on the thankfulness I have for that rather than on the months of physical pain I experienced.

I’ve chosen the same focus in relation to my friend whose situation was (and, in many ways, continues to be) challenging. In the bleakest moments of this situation, I would get to the point of realizing that I needed to let go of any thoughts of being able to “save” my friend or “fix” his situation. Instead, I came to realize that I simply need to trust that God is working in his life. And sure enough, when I now step back, I can see in these past six months a trajectory toward stability and healing. My friend’s gentle landing into the loving care and hospitality of the couple he is now living with is the latest step in this trajectory. I also perceive it as a beautiful sign that God is indeed working in my friend’s life, as well as inspiring and guiding people around him, myself included. For all of this I am thankful.

So with this all being said, I am definitely looking forward to the new beginning that a new year brings. I am ready to let go of 2022 and its challenges and disappointments, while carrying forward the sustaining gratitude I’ve harvested from how I’ve chosen to look at and respond to these same challenges and disappointments (something I also did back in 2019).

In ways that are both practical and spiritual, I am mindfully preparing myself to enter into a new year with a renewed perspective of mind and heart.

To this end I’m cleaning and organzing my attic abode, as well as developing habits that will hopefully help me keep my physical space organized and clutter-free. I’m also re-establishing some spiritual practices that I’ve allowed to fall away this past year – my time of morning meditation, for instance. I’m also setting the stage for some new spiritual practices that I’ll be maintaining throughout 2023. These are my working with the book, A Year With Anthony De Mello, as well as my following of the year-long curriculum of daily exercises in the Workbook of A Course In Miracles offered by Marianne Williamson through her daily program, Mornings with Marianne.

I’m also going to work on getting into shape physically, starting by utilizing some of the online exercise routines offered by both Joe Wicks and Jordan Yeoh.

Finally, I’m going to try as best I can to cultivate and maintain a loving, generous, and grateful spirit in all aspects of my life, in part by identifying and removing actions and habits that are not in alignment with my highest/true-Self.

However you are able to lean into and embody the invitations of this time of liminality, I wish you an enlivening and transformative awareness of the presence and movement of the Sacred in your life.

Following is some of my recent photography that seeks to acknowledge and celebrate this current time of liminal space.

Above: My Christmas tree this year is in my bedroom. This is because its usual spot in the main area of my attic abode has been taken over by my ficus tree (left), a tree that actually dates back to the late 1980s when it was in the office of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM). This was a number of years before my arrival to the U.S. from Australia and my subsequest inheriting of this tree in 2003.

NEXT: The Light of This New Year’s Day

Related Off-site Links:
End Your Year Intentionally With These 10 Questions – Daisy U (No Sidebar).
Ten Surprisingly Good Things That Happened in 2022 – Medea Benjamin (Common Dreams, December 21, 2022).
Postures and Practices for the Year to Come – Anna Blaedel (Enfleshed, December 28, 2022).
New Year Transformation: Resources for the JourneyGrateful Living.
The New Year – Brigit Anna McNeill (Connection, December 30, 2022).
Ringing In the New: A Time to Begin Again – Marianne Williamson (Transform, December 31, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Somewhere In-Between
Dwelling in Peace
Christmas Dawns
Christmas for Mystics
How the Light Comes
Honoring the Darkness While Remembering the Light
The Christmas Miracle
I Need Do Nothing . . . I Am Open to the Living Light
The Light Within
The Source Is Within You
A Sacred Pause
Aligning With the Living Light
Mystical Participation
Returning the Mind to God
The Beauty and Challenge of Being Present in the Moment
Being the Light

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Anne said...

Thank you for your post – and for the beautiful photos! Wishing you a healthy and very happy 2023.

Anonymous said...

Your post is moving, and gives me a sense of peace and hope, as it’s author always does. Praying for peace and hoping for change in 2023, and now motivated to be a part of all three as each action I take will guide me toward my liminal space and happiness. Happiness, is after all, a state of mind that we are in control of if we choose to be! It is the action we put forth that allow that choice. You have certainly provided a beautiful guide and many suggestions to help achieve this. I love you, your words, your photography and your beautiful spirit. Happy New Year Michael.I am so blessed to have you as one of my dearest and oldest (have know longest) friends! May God be incredibly generous to you in 2023!

JimNS said...

Great post, Michael. I haven't been to your website In a while. Not sure why, was a regular follower and am bookmarking you again. I loved all your posts and pictures especially of your trips home, your various ministries, relationships etc. Glad your surgery worked out. I have lower lumbar spinal stenosis. A couple of friends had the same thing, had surgery with a very short and easy recovery period and are up and walking everywhere. I hope to have it in February or March. Miss my walks in the West Village, Central Park and Washington Square Park. Another book in addition to DeMello you might find helpful is "The Ignatian Adventure". It's an eight week experience og the Ignatian exercises. Are you still a hospital chaplain or is that old news? Will start catching up on some of your older posts and am looking forward to more. You've always impressed me as a great and caring human being.