In class yesterday we were reflecting on the need for faith communities to be able to hold people as they transition through liminal spaces in life. A liminal space is the gap between one place and another. It is where the edges of two spaces meet. It might be the doorway connecting two rooms. It might be the laneway between two neighbouring buildings. It might be the street that separates the middle class side of town and the working class side of town. Liminal space can be an awkward and uncomfortable space to stay in because it is not quite one place and not quite the other.
A liminal space might also be a period of time. It might be the awkward and uncomfortable space between childhood and adulthood. It might be the space between losing a job and finding a new one. It might be the space between the failure of the worldview we were brought up with the building of a new worldview that can serve us for a new stage of life. We were reflecting on how communities of faith may be able to hold together people who may be going through various stages and transitions.
One of the things I was considering is that we might look at a faith community itself as a liminal space. If we are bringing together people from different experiences, what we are doing is creating a liminal space in the midst of us. There might also be a sense that we are seeking to create a space that operates differently to the surrounding order, a space that might reflect a change we’d like to one day see in the wider world. In that sense, we might think of that community as the edge of reality, an edge that presses into the future we hope for.
In reflecting about this I was reminded of an image from the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering from the 2013 set, Theros. Theros is set on a plane of reality of the same name, which is ruled by powerful gods and inspired by ancient Greek mythology. The card that came to mind is called ‘Temple of Mystery’, and I’ve included some images below.
This is Noah Bradley’s illustration, which was used in the initial printing:
This is Adam Paquette’s version, which has been used on some promotional cards:
The cards show a temple which is literally at the edge of the world. In the story, this represents the shrine of the god Kruphix – an olive tree that grows up out of the water and rocks at the world’s end. Kruphix is the god of horizons and of that which is possible, but is not yet reality.