The Holy Ground of Liminal Spaces
Note: may be a trigger for those who have had complications or tragic experiences with birth.
In many ways I am at a crossroads in my life. This season has shifted my bones and provided clarity in a way only tragedy can. And last night I had a powerful dream that brought this into my body with an intensity I am still reeling from.
Before I share my dream, let me first list my own personal nemeses. While they are more rare than they used to be, they still manage to lurk in the shadows waiting to strike at any sign of desire, creativity or joy:
A crippling sense of futility. (Why bother? What’s the point? Why does it matter in the long run? Where is my purpose in this? Why does my art matter when the world is full of ache and despair and earthquakes?)
The paralyzing stupor of overwhelm. (Where to begin? It is too much. Too deep. I have too many other things to do. How to choose what is most important? How dare I do something creative and soulfully delicious when I have laundry / dishes / working out / emails / organizing to do? And now I have no energy. Can’t even move. Why don’t I just take a nap?)
Doubting myself and feeling despair when I discover that someone else has produced something just like what I’ve been working on—a concept, a title or core phrase, a style, and more. (Should I just drop my own dream? Should I back away and let them have it? Should I try to explain that I’ve been working on this too, and here it is, and I’m not copying them—it’s truly from my soul, and I’m not here to compete, but to love? Should I just keep doing it anyway? Look how fabulous they are ... they are the truly gifted ones ... I’m silly for even thinking I could offer that, or write about this, or create that.)
All of these produce the same result:
My flow stops.
Sometimes I lose interest.
My energy just dies. My whole body droops. I become lethargic, wander aimlessly, want to crawl under the covers and tug a pillow over my head. In some cases I burn with shame ... Who am I to think I could do something that big, that powerful, that beautiful? Who am I to think I have anything worthwhile in this field?
Transparency is uncomfortable.
In my dream I was pregnant.
As one who has yet to bear child, and who may never have a child of my own, this is so tender for me.
In my dream I was bursting with child, walking on my family’s land, the earth where I ran barefoot as a little girl. I was far away from the farm house, alone at the time, and suddenly realized that my baby was coming NOW. I lay down in the pathway and and put my hand down to feel my baby’s head begin to crown, trying to decide if there was a way to hold off on the birth until I had someone to help me? But life insisted on having her way and there was no stopping this child. I birthed her into my own hands, lifting her from between my legs and placing her on my belly with tears, my entire body heaving with emotion.
Suddenly I realized my baby wasn’t breathing. She was still alive, in that space where time stops and the whole world hovers near, expectant, watching, waiting with our own held breath, suspended in that liminal space of transitioning worlds that is the journey of birth and we witness, holding within our own bodies both the ache and the glory.
She still wasn’t breathing.
I began screaming. In that moment, in the utter panic and desperation of it, I had two sharp, distinct realizations: it was up to me to save my child—I held the power to do so, and if I knew exactly what to do and had the courage to do it, she would live. But if I did not take action, if I did not do what I must do, she would forever be still. I had no time to waver, no luxury of time to think about it, research, dream, plan it out, explore my options, make lists. No—the life of my child rested solely in my own instinct, my mother intuition, my immediate action based on inner wisdom and knowing without stopping to question, wonder, or decide.
My mother fierce rose with urgent terror and one electrifying purpose: make her breathe!
Suddenly into my dream-consciousness came a portly male figure standing off to the side. He was not my husband or friend or anyone I recognized. His head was down. He was not making any effort to help, nor did he seem aware of the supreme urgency of this life-or-death drama unfolding before him.
I threw him my cell-phone, screaming at him to call my family and get help. With no passion, with no fire, he aimlessly tried to tap the number onto the screen and even though I told him what it was again and again, he kept punching the wrong numbers and shrugging like it didn’t matter, like oh well I tried, and kept his head down the whole time and started playing games because he was depressed, lifeless, and bored.
In this incredulous dichotomy, me staring at him screaming for him to do something while knowing that it was completely up to me to save my baby, with him standing there unaffected, playing games, surfing the web, unfeeling, numb, shrugging, while my baby still wasn’t breathing and precious seconds were slipping away as life passed by ...
In this moment, in my desperation and urgency, like being poised on the frothy crest of a turbulent and powerful wave suspended above the ocean it came from, I woke up.
I woke up, and my body was contracting as if I had given birth. There was intense pressure in my womb and in my lower back, and I felt heavy and liminal, as if I were still in that moment when the baby has come and yet my body still held her life-source connecting me to her through the flesh of her cord.
This dream haunts and enlivens me. It shakes me awake, leaves me startled and nearly shocked into my living as if I have been jolted with the defibrillation of heart-reviving electricity along with screams of “CLEAR!”
Clear. Yes. Clarity. A clearing of all that does not serve. A clearing of what holds me back, down, inordinately silent and wandering.
This dream tells me so much ... from the first dream-awareness of carrying life in my body to the literal waking up. The life or death urgency, the contrasting ennui, the head down as life passes by while preoccupied with things that do nothing except distract from what is real, what is desperate, what is needed, what is calling, what is holy, wild, and alive.
I am at a significant crossroads right now, and I get to choose. I get to rely on my inner wisdom. I must.
“I feel peaceful and powerful,” I said to my friend Alicia as we texted last night about shifting seasons and permission slips signed in smoky eyeliner.
“I’ll rip the slip in two and we can both have half,” she said.