According to Wikipedia, liminality is the ambiguity or disorientation that occurs when you are in the middle of transforming. In ritual, participants “stand at the threshold between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.”
The last few days I have felt that disorientation. Everything is outwardly fine and yet I can feel the sadness and slow colour bleed that marks my depression. I know we all feel depression is similar/different ways. For me, it’s like the world loses all its colour, leaving a grey landscape devoid of hope.
Usually I have tools, like paintbrushes, that I can pick up to recolour my life. Tools like meeting with friends, journalling, texting my sister, going for a walk or just a good night’s sleep.
But the last few days I haven’t quite been able to get the paint on the canvas.
This afternoon I decided to head to a labyrinth ritual down on the beach. The theme was the autumnal equinox; that liminal space between summer and winter.
It is a lovely day here in Vancouver. Blue sky and sunshine with a light breeze. The labyrinth was constructed way out on the tidal flats. A temporary space, a gift of the earth soon to be washed clean again by the sea.
We each received a walnut and a copy of Rumi’s poem – A Dumb Experiment.
Break open your personal self
to taste the story of the nutmeat soul.
These voices come from that rattling
against the outer shell.
The nut and the oil inside
have voices that can only be heard
with another kind of listening.
If it weren’t for the sweetness of the nut,
the inner talking, who would ever shake a walnut?
We listen to words
so we can silently
reach into the other.
Let the ear and the mouth get quiet,
so this taste can come to the lip.
Too long we have been saying poetry,
talking discourses, explaining the mystery out loud.
Let’s try a dumb experiment.
As I walked the labyrinth and silently listened to what was rattling my shell, I realized that this pent up pressure, this heaviness that prevents my spirit from flying, this weight that keeps me from picking up the paintbrushes, is fear. That’s all. Just fear.
Fear that I will fall into the grey abyss of depression and that I will be unrecoverable. That depression will drag me down and drown me in sadness. I fear I will be lost.
But there by the ocean, in the twists and turns of the labyrinth, I let go of being afraid of the fear. Yes, there may be sadness and anxiety and heartache in my life. But it won’t drag me down. If I can’t always soar above it, that’s okay; I can surf along it, be carried within it and be silent within it. I can learn its mystery and just be in this liminal space. I will surface again.
It’s okay to have a periods of ambiguity and disorientation when I am on the threshold between what is past and what is to come. Between who I was and what I am yet to be. In walking the labyrinth, surrounded by earth, air, fire and water, my spirit was re-balanced into peace.
My deepest gratitude to Les at Walking the Labyrinth for the gift of the equinox labyrinth today in this liminal space.