There is a space in between where nothing is as it was. We are there, now, today. Together. We sit in uncertainty as we let go of aspects of what may have once seemingly been certain- daily routine, health, job, freedom of movement- (if we were privileged to experience these things) and can barely begin to anticipate what life will look like once we emerge from this time. And while we all go through many different thresholds of our lives - births, graduations, deaths, moves, traumas, losses- we are now encountering a collective experience of the space in between. Like a threshold, today we may find ourselves in the process of crossing over but to where and what we are not sure. As with most thresholds and transitions, we may experience a certain degree of aloneness, stuck in the betwixt and between, lost, confused, wondering the meaning, and uncertain of the outcomes. We may feel ungrounded from a sense of hope or faith. After all, nothing is as it was, or as we imagined it would be.
However, in these liminal spaces of our lives, we may look to community and ritual to buoy us and remind us of our place, our connectedness. Especially now as we collectively find ourselves in the space in between, we can find comfort that we exist in relation to others around us. As Thich Nhat Hanh teaches, we “inter-are.” Our contributions- a call, an errand for someone, staying home- no matter how seemingly insignificant, are essential and life-giving. In turn, when we open ourselves up to receiving, we feel the support of the neighbor, or family, or stranger to us. These moments of meeting not only keep us connected, they remind us that we are inherently connected. In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s commencement address at Oberlin College, June 1965, “ …All mankind is tied together; all life is interrelated, and we are all caught in an escapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be- this is the interrelated structure of reality…And by believing this, by living out this fact, we will be able to remain awake through a great revolution.”
We awaken to the fertile ground of the space in between; a ground where personal and collective meaning can be cultivated through rituals which invite and celebrate our transformation. We call on one another, as well as our community of ancestors living among us in our bloodstreams, our memories, and our collective wisdom. During these times, as we experience rituals of Passover and Easter, as well as our own personal endings and beginnings, we may wish to open ourselves up to what is offered in each moment. What is here now? For me, time seems to slow down as I wonder where I am, what I am doing and where I am going. It dawns on me that this “time of wondering” is transforming into “a time of wonder.” The spring cardinal with a bright orange beak, the light green haze cast over the low ground of the woods. The sounds of water rushing down a hill over rock, or a child playing with bubbles in a distant yard. The returning lost view of the Himalayas, the brightening outline of LA , the teaming visible life in Venice canals. Perhaps even a new understanding of the four questions of Passover, or the three long days leading up to Easter, arises from our being together in this space in between. I am reminded of the words of Jalaluddin Rumi, a thirteenth-century Sufi Muslim poet, alluding to a type of space in between (translation by Coleman Barks):
“Beyond our ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about ideas, language. Even the words ‘each other’ don’t make any sense.”