A Liminal Space...
I’m sitting on a ferry and thinking about the fact that these journeys can often be a still, productive space for me to think and write. I have often found that space between leaving one country and arriving in another is such a good place to think, pray, write and let go before landing into the ‘other place’ of busyness. It’s a liminal space; where there is time, a process and a gap. A space to breathe out, and then breathe in again before landing. So I often write. It’s become a creative space for me.
There is something very beautiful about being ‘at sea’. Sailing for hours across the waters with just the sea and sky for your viewing. I find, both elements, (when calm and not too stormy!), still your emotions and your anxieties. The space around you is liberating, when we live so much of our lives surrounded.
And it’s led me to think this morning about the liminal spaces that our refugee friends are living in. Nothing is confirmed or certain. They are waiting for what’s next; but one of the things I recognise in them, is they do so well with the uncertainty. They choose to smile and value the freedom they do have, even if that means a lot of physical discomfort and having each day to train themselves to do well with the long wait. So much is on hold, education, family reunions, careers, even the basics of finding a home and knowing when the next meal is. But in the space in which they are living, they create a creative space. One where they seek to learn new languages, make new temporary families and friends, and one where they find varied ways of keeping as warm as possible and seeking out the food they desperately need to keep themselves reasonably healthy. Everything about this liminal space is unfamiliar and challenging, but I’m constantly blown away but their adaptability and creative thinking. There’s often a lot of fear, understandably so, but telling and listening to stories, laughing and kicking a ball around does a lot to build optimism and hope. So it’s often the small things that make their liminal spaces, creative spaces.
When I write crossing the water, I relax into the sound of the engine, and the gentle rocking of the boat and it creates a space that i find freeing. And as I’m writing this morning, I’m thinking about how we can make a difference to the journeys our SOS Chai boys are on. By turning up twice weekly we have given them a regular space to come and meet, talk, eat, play games and share their anxieties if needed. But are there other rhythms that we could encourage or create, that can help them do well in their liminal space? And find this waiting time in their life to be a creative and freeing one even? One of the most challenging seasons for us as humans can be those when we just feel insignificant, unseen and totally misunderstood. The boys live with this as their story day by day. So I think I’ve said before, but just by simply saying , welcome to our city, it’s so great to meet you, and asking, what is your name & where do you come from? These simple statements and questions break up the lie that these boys aren’t seen, and aren’t significant. And then by really listening, and seeking to learn their names, and remember who comes from where and who has what need, (not always very easy when there is so many of them each session) we send a very strong message, you matter and we care.
And I just want to also encourage all you who are giving to help us make this possible. Because when we meet a specific need, those moments of joy in receiving that gift break into the long tunnel of waiting and surviving, switching lights on in their hearts, affirming who they are to us in Europe, that they matter to us and that they are each a significant gift to our continent.
So we’re praying their liminal spaces are creative and forming spaces....not empty tunnels of waiting but that their days are punctuated with creative moments and that they can keep their eyes on the horizon of hope. I believe they have a Creator who loves them and is for them and who longs to see them find that freedom and peace and know how much they really matter and that are deeply loved.