Loss in Liminal Space

Liminality is the antidote to superficiality - the curse of this age. Liminal space invites us to embrace suffering not escape it. There is no depth without suffering…

Tucked away in the corner of the freezer is a bag of “Smiley Faces”. Untouched over the past year they have been a regular reminder of what life has given us that we are so grateful for and what the Covid restrictions have taken away that we mourned the loss of. Every time I see those Smiley Faces they remind of the little people who call me Paps. The little people whose smiley faces I see on the computer screen, or on the doorstep or in the public space. And I feel the bittersweet swirl of joy and sadness that has characterised the various lockdowns.

Liminal space is often precipitated by and marked by loss, both great and small. We should not compare but we are invited to mourn our loss and mourn with those who mourn theirs. As we do something amazing can happen. Tears of sadness become seeds of gratitude and the fruit of gratitude is hope and joy.

Henri Nouwen believed that sorrow and joy are part of the same movement and that the steps of our dancing are ordered through our mourning. He suggested we are not able to be truly glad unless we are also able to be truly sad. My journey tells me he was right. For so many of us the past year has been a time of great loss, a time when we’ve experienced deep sorrow and sadness but at the same time liminal space has invited us to be grateful and in so doing to release joy, it continues to invite us to embrace loss and at the same time hold on to hope, it invites us to practice mourning and at the same time to learn the steps to a new dance.

Every time I saw those Smiley Faces I smiled back and sometimes through tears said thank you for the smiley faces of the little people who were not so little but still small enough to join me on my bouncy castle when our mourning turned to dancing.

Mark Lawrence is a leadership and culture consultant