Liminal Time

The threshold of a large kiln

The threshold of a large kiln

The days between Christmas and New Year’s Day always seem, to me, a bit peculiar. They might be “work days,” but many workplaces are thrown off their normal routines by vacation schedules, school schedules, a pervasive sense that these are not ordinary days. They might be “vacation days,” but if they are, they have the persistent feel of a vacation on the wane, flowing towards the resumption of the everyday, with its pent up demands and dues.

Whatever kind of days they are, they feel “in between.” And while technically any days could be “in between,” I seldom notice it, and I suspect I am not alone.

I think this “in between” quality is close to what social anthropologist Victor Turner meant by the idea of “liminality”. Turner used the idea to understand the meaning of initiation rituals. But it’s tempting to borrow the idea, when it seems to fit, to describe the ambiguous quality of this stretch of time.

Liminality, applied to time, seems like it might be another word for “already-not yet.” That slogan is well known in Christian theological circles, as a description of the present, in which God’s realm of justice and peace has already definitively triumphed, but not yet in the visible, tangible, material and complete way I myself, and I suspect others, keep hoping to experience.

Come to think of it, the Women’s Center is a liminal entity in this sense, since its mission is focused on keeping alive our consciousness of the gap between what we all already know, or should know, about what justice means when it comes to gender (women are people, people include women), but don’t yet fully put into practice — and on closing that gap, in the direction of bringing our collective practice into line with our good ideas and intentions.

The most immediate already-not yet liminal Women’s Center offering on the agenda is 2009 Artist-in-Residence Ann Laird Jones’s J-term course Clay Forms: Restorative Table Justice. We are looking forward to seeing the forms and insights that will emerge from that unique time and space.

[Image from Notes on the History of Stoke-on-Trent]

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This entry was posted in Activities & Events, Theology & Other Thoughts by Ha_Qohelet. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ha_Qohelet

Ha_Qohelet is a transliteration of Hebrew definite article plus a feminine participle, all together meaning "the (feminine) one who assembles" or who calls together. Qohelet is the title of one of the books of the Hebrew Scripture, known in English as Ecclesiastes. The Women's Center at LPTS feels the epithet of Qohelet is a fitting one for what we do and are. The Women's Center is, indeed, a caller-together, a caller-to-wisdom, and an assembler -- of people, of ideas, of actions, and ultimately, we hope, of transformations in the world. In this context, Ha_Qohelet is the Director of the Women's Center, and Editor-in-Chief of Wimminwise.

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