Much of the work of authentic spirituality and human development is to get people into liminal space and to keep them there long enough that they can learn something essential and new.
The bougainvillea plant was violently removed from a large pot and replanted near the trellis covering the new patio. It was in shock. One of its thick roots had snapped when the construction worker gave it a mighty tug. As the leaves yellowed and fell silently, I wondered whether it would survive such a radical disruption. I had hopes that its branches would one day become heavy with bright red and green leaves and cover the trellis. I looked for tiny green buds along its branches, the usual signs of new life, but they were slow in coming. I dug around the trunk and gave it discarded coffee grounds. I watered it regularly and waited. Though you may laugh, I was even desperate enough to talk to it. Still I waited. I held on to the hope that hidden deep within her, there was still life.
I thought perhaps it was putting all its energy into new roots, so I waited. When I remember how dead this vine seemed and how beautiful, vibrant, strong and productive it is today, it encourages me to have hope and to wait in my own places of uncertainty and ambiguity.
There are many liminal spaces caused by disruptions of all kinds in our life: divorce, a new career, a new baby, broken relationships, or illness. Just as we cannot see the repairs and restoration happening inside a transplanted vine, we cannot always see what God is doing as we wait for what is next. Our limited perspective requires we wait in uncertainty when nothing seems to be happening.
“I believe, help me overcome my unbelief” is a step taken towards a God who only allows what he can redeem (Mark 9:24). From the beginning of creation, he promised to redeem all things. In liminal spaces where uncertainty and doubt escalate, we can come to the one who reigns as redeemer, Savior and Lord (Psalm 29:10-11).
As we wait, God may not immediately change the situation, but he provides everything we need physically, spiritually, and emotionally. As we wait, our weak faith is undergirded by Jesus’ strong faith, and ultimately we are transformed and brought into a deeper relationship with God.
- Clench your hands into fists and confess to God what you are waiting for that would give you peace and fulfill your dreams.
- Now relax your hands and turn your palms facing upward.
- Pray along these lines:
- "I surrender _________________ to you." I cast all my fear and anxiety and insecurity upon you, trusting that you will do your part, trusting that you will show me what my part is (if any). Please give me the wisdom to know your will for me, the willingness to accept it, and the courage and strength to wait patiently. I need your help in each of these ways, for I cannot do any of them on my own. Give me what I need for today—physically, spiritually, and emotionally. No more. No less.¹
¹ Adapted from the "Daily Prayer of Surrender", author unknown.
Carmen Fleming is an Odyssey in Christ spiritual director and along with her participation on the retreat and seminar staff, she serves on the OIC Board as secretary.