By Jonathan L. Best
On May 1st, I had the opportunity to participate in the first ever Zoom Invitational Meeting for the newly formed Guild for Engaged Liminality (GEL). Over 20 participants joined across numerous time zones and continents. As a founding member of GEL, the creation of the guild was the culmination of a dream that began for me nearly 3 year ago. Newly formed friendships and partnerships brought to fruition something that previously felt impossible. And yet, on the first of May, the impossible became possible, which I think is a fitting analogy for liminality. The creation of GEL marks an important liminal threshold for me. One that marks both an ending and a beginning. The culmination of one dream and the beginning of another.
I consider this guild as a unique opportunity to explore transition and change in a variety of ways, which was reflected in the immense diversity that marked the first meeting of this guild. Speaking as a participant, I found it was truly remarkable and lifegiving. The meeting confirmed something I discovered long ago, there is amazing beauty and wonder within liminality. Particularly in the way liminality can bring together such a fantastic array of people passionate about encountering what’s in-between the known and the unknown.
I’m excited by exploring what occurs in-between the boundaries of the known and the unknown, especially with others who share the same passion. For liminality encourages me to continually practice radical openness toward others, toward other perspectives, and toward other ideas through engaging with and in-between ideas, spaces, peoples, and cultures. Together we’re responding to the call of the unconditional as theologian Paul Tillich put it, immersing ourselves into the liquid world described by sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, and living within what philosopher John Caputo often names as the flux.
Speaking of Caputo, another term that resonates with me is the idea of “perhaps.” I think it’s a helpful way to describe liminality and the future of the guild. The beauty of liminality is that the future isn’t prescribed. There is always something more going in liminality than we can possibly imagine. “Perhaps” encourages us to leave the safety of what we know, the nostalgia for a time or place we thought to be better, or the comfort of systems and precepts we desperately cling to. It’s a radical openness to the present, particularly to all the people, places, and ideas that we encounter in our daily lives. And it’s this radical openness that I envision for the guild. It’s a radical openness for one another, which encourages us to make room for the perpetual other. Each day we cross the threshold of “perhaps,” not knowing what the day will bring or who (or what) we might encounter.
Liminality, as I see it, is the embodiment of “perhaps.” Again, this radical opening to the present moment is exciting and even terrifying as we open ourselves to the unknown. Whether good or bad, liminality prompts our imaginations with a promise too alluring to ignore—there’s just something about liminality, its transition and change, its betweenness, which is enticing. For me, this enticement is the excitement of saying yes to the future. To conclude, it’s this saying yes to the future, of being open to “perhaps” and wherever that may lead us as a guild, that I find so infinitely fascinating and joy bringing.
Contact the guild: email@example.com
Note: Originally posted on liminaltheology.org