Arnold van Gennep, a late 19th century anthropologist, first conceptualized the idea of liminality in his studies of cultural rites of passage. He contended that, regardless of culture or circumstance, a uniform pattern exists in transitional stages of human life: separation, transition, and incorporation. The term liminality, derived from the Latin word limen, means “threshold,” and refers to the transitional (liminal) place between two otherwise defined areas or states.
Many biblical characters experienced liminal space. Noah was suspended between corrupted and newly cleansed worlds. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness between Egypt’s oppression and Canaan’s promise. Jonah spent three days in the darkness of a whale’s belly between his separation from and reincorporation into God’s will. Jesus experienced this in-betweenness during his wilderness temptation, and quintessentially during Holy Saturday – the time between his crucifixion and resurrection. In each case, “incorporation” takes the form of transformation. For believers, it is in the sacred middle ground where God’s deepest work in our lives is accomplished. Traversing these sacred thresholds – these liminal spaces – with each other is what Soul Care Ministries at Community Presbyterian Church is all about.
Soul Care Ministries: Crossing Life’s Thresholds Together
Carol Potochney, Director