Thursday, September 12, 2013

Liminal Times

“Liminal”…it’s a word that I thought I had imagined as I groped for something to describe "being neither in one place nor in another."  However, recently I have found this word, “liminal,” as I did my usual surfing about the Web, skipping in ADHD fashion from one topic to another.  Finally – confirmation of this word that even sounds tentative. 

I have had many liminal times in my life.  Sometimes it’s a feeling of being completely outside of normal time and space, and other times (usually) it’s only one aspect of my life that’s in a liminal state.  One example of a liminal period is when I wrestled with the idea of leaving the church where I first embraced the Anglican expression of Christian faith.  I no longer felt I belonged there, but neither did I belong anywhere else, yet.  When I think back on that time and other liminal times, the main image I get is one of searching, seeking something, somewhere, but oftentimes not even knowing exactly what I would find.  I think it would be very easy to get lost in such a fog, if there weren’t a guide to walk along with me.  Such a guide would be one with greater knowledge and better sight than mine; otherwise, we’d both simply wander about, lost in this liminal fog.

As I reflect on these times, I find that my guide has been the Holy Spirit.  As I prayed and listened to the Spirit, I was guided to people, books, and yes, even websites that helped me find the direction I needed to take.  In the case of my liminal time between churches, I was advised to visit other churches and “listen to what is being said – and not just the words.”  And with that, the Spirit would gently lead me to the next place that would serve as my spiritual home.

Now, as I did then, I need to reach out to my guide, the Holy Spirit.  I can listen to the Spirit’s voice as I pray, study, worship, and serve others.

When I do so, I won’t get lost.  I'll find my way.

Photo Credit: By Oliver Herold (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, September 9, 2013

Removing Distractions

I have been a member of the Altar Guild for as long as I have been an Episcopalian.  That would be about 11 years now.

The Altar Guild is a worship ministry in a given parish that is devoted to the care and setting up of worship-related items.  One regular duty of the Altar Guild is to set up the altar for Sunday worship services.  Following each service, members clean up the sacred vessels and prepare linens for laundering.  Since the priest is the person charged with making sure corporate worship is both organized and uplifting, the Altar Guild follows his or her (in the Episcopal Church, women can be priests) lead in how things are arranged and maintained.

One priest gave me this bit of guidance that has served me well for many years, and not just for the arrangement of church items.  He said, "One important thing we have to do as ministers, is to take away anything that distracts people from worshiping God," whether it's a sloppy fringe on an altar hanging, misplaced vessels or a dirty table covering.  People can go overboard and become fussy about such things, but that is not the proper intent behind our attention to detail.

Carrying this advice to other areas of my life, I seek to remove those things (such as petty jealousies, preoccupations, negativity) that distract me from God and doing his will.  I try to avoid being a hindrance to others in their spiritual journeys.  Better yet, I strive to be helpful as they seek God's will in their lives.

I'm not always successful, but these are my goals. 

Photo Credit: By Christopher John SSF [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons