This post is by Lizzy Brady, our Pilgrim in Residence for the month of August. Each Wednesday this month, Lizzy will be sharing about her search for Life on the pilgrim roads of Europe. Learn more about Lizzy and read the rest of the posts in this series here. -Lacy
I first heard the word liminal three years ago on a ten-day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters.
It was on those waters that I wrestled with God more than I ever have before, as fear and anger have few places to hide in the middle of a lake. Much has happened since then, yet I still vividly remember stepping out of my canoe on the other side of that liminal space with just a little more trust that God might actually be good.
Liz and I set out from the Taizé Community to explore the space ahead and guide others to do the same. We had about a month of travel before visiting and guiding the participants in midsummer retreats. The vision for those retreats was to create a rejuvenating and reflective pause for the pilgrim participants. We led four retreats in three cities—Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Bergen, Norway; and Santiago de Compostela, Spain—with each retreat as distinctive and beautiful as the cities themselves.
The design for those midsummer retreats was, in many ways, a product of all the processing, synthesizing, and dreaming we did during our first month of travel. Liz and I spent many hours on trains in June, and we gladly filled that space poring over the works of Richard Foster and Dan Allender, all while scheming of ways to weave the rhythms of Taizé throughout it all. At other times, I just sat in awe, with those beautiful ideas floating through my mind as equally magnificent landscapes rushed by. (Oh, but please don’t be fooled—not every train ride was idyllic or productive, trust me.)
I could slowly feel this numb heart of mine come alive as I explored the wild potentiality of liminal space. Each new city offered ancient roads to wander, glimpses into the heart of my Maker, and clarity on how to guide the pilgrim participants toward Life that is truly Life.
The midsummer retreats came and went in a flash—they were exhausting and incredibly exhilarating all at the same time. Our days were filled with one-on-one meetings, team conflict-resolution sessions, an exploration of spiritual disciplines and the importance of story.
But above all, I listened to stories of great joy and stories of great tragedy, and was honored to simply sit with these dear pilgrims in the weight of it all.
Not everything went as planned during those midsummer retreats, to be honest; developing and executing freshly formed ideas takes longer than one month of preparation (and there is still so much I have yet to learn—come back to me in ten years). But what ground we did cover revealed glimpses of God’s Kingdom leaving me forever changed. I wouldn’t trade the opportunity to minister to and counsel those dear participants for anything.
As I developed and led those retreats in the wake of such significant loss, it became increasingly obvious that I wasn’t merely in the tension between grief and hope, but also between my name and the name my Author will one day whisper in my ear.
There is nothing that moves me more than guiding others to press towards their real name, and to dream with them about living a life fully, deeply, and courageously for the sake of the Greatest Story. I’m utterly and unreservedly convinced that this exploration of where I’ve been, who I am, and where I’m going is a Sacred one.
And so it is for you, too. (Read more about this in Dan Allender’s To Be Told: God Invites You to Coauthor Your Future.) A dear friend and mentor encouraged me to explore those very questions many years ago, where I took my first terrifying and sloppy steps toward meaning.
I’m still undoubtedly on that journey, but thankful for these liminal spaces teeming with potential and formation.
(P.S.: Where is my friend now? Find out here. Oh and I’m not the slightest bit surprised.)
How have liminal spaces and in-between seasons in your own journey have led to transformation? Share your response to the question or the post in the comments.