Sunday, March 31, 2024

liminal trails

“Cultivating hope
means strengthening the will.”

~ Josemaría Escrivá, Furrow (780)

The liminal season I call winter-into-spring is often more striking than a New England autumn. But subtly, those housepaint skies are atop fifty-degree middays as well as ice storms. These extremes happen hours apart. Liminality represents threshold space, margins between paragraphs. If you can find yourself the luxury of pausing between obligations and demands, there you’ll find those mental spaces to muse. I remember a professor from graduate school, a brilliant lecturer, who would occasionally stop speaking and look out the window. I admired that, realizing he was reflecting in mid-flight. Because the constantly streaming media in our midst obstructs our natural musing tendencies, misconstrued as unproductive, threshold thinking becomes intentional.

Within the mercurial fluctuations of this unpredictable season, I’m amidst moving my household across town to a better abode. Two extremely difficult years of apartment-searching while tolerating an intensely oppressive and nightmarish place became impetus to make a sudden, cold-weather move. Transition is itself a jarring, liminal circumstance- yet it is much better to make a move by choice than to be forced to move (as with two years ago). The move will get its written due, but for the moment I’ll express liminality by noting how the past month has straddled two apartments. When I needed a sponge-scrubber or various tools in one place, having left them in the other place, I took to using my car as a kind of trolley for cleaning and packing material. At least the distances have been just a few miles apart, and true to the transitional the straddling is short-lived. The reward is a more peaceful place that I can better afford. Though I know all the neighborhoods of this small city, it’s threshold life nonetheless, having to find my bearings between the known and the unfamiliar.

My father gave me this radio as a birthday gift when I was 15.
Now it's perched on a red formica kitchen counter.

Through all the shuttling between living spaces, employment, and errands, I’ve maintained such constants as journaling- and a beloved icon of the transitory: radio. A listener all my life, and in this part of the country I know where all the frequencies are. When I’ve test-driven cars, I’ve always checked to make sure the radio can at least pull in AM1030 WBZ. Having several radios, plus the one in my car (and another at work), I’ve subconsciously maintained such threads of continuity. From the basis of the familiar, transcendence springs. Drowsily dozing among boxes in the soon-to-be former place, my radio was tuned to a commentator talking about the implications of contemplative prayer. It is subtle, understated, yet far-reaching. When he said, “ten minutes can reverberate into eternity,” I made sure to write this down. From liminal vantage points, horizons are abstract at best. I particularly liked the radio commentator’s remarks- simple and unostentatious, unlike that which too often dominates the airwaves. Many know the unpronounceable simplicity of enduring faith, and how it often seems unsubstantiated. But perseverance in the liminal is vital. My several-times-daily journal entries represent perseverance, as well as provide private space to express frustration. Much of the writing really is about hope, tedious as the repetition might be, it’s as critically necessary as air. Or a sane living space. I continue to consider writing to be my documented pilgrimage into the future, longing for better living and working situations. This current move is an intentional step in the right direction, while fully aware of the need for improvement and how there is nearly nothing left of the “old life,” or the city I used to enjoy so much. The liminal trail from winter into spring, combined with new slants of light, must lead to renewal. A life of hardworked prep must give way to practical application. A life of readying is ripe for followthrough. Why this has been taking so long is beyond my comprehension, thus it is necessary to believe better times are ahead.

Getting the place clean enough to move in
(and unpack my philosophy books).