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Monday, October 09, 2017

The Threshold Between Worlds

(written from the plane on Sunday) Last night, as I lay awake in the airport hotel in London, the word that came to mind was liminal.  The vague hovering outside of time and between spaces, the threshold from one thing to another where you might still be present in both, but not in either fully.  Two am in an island city, a few miles from an airport, 8 time zones from departure but still two from arrival.  A few hours of sleep having taken the edge off of exhaustion, a body confused into thinking night is day. 

And as I thought about that space that is neither here nor there, and the dis-ease of occupying it, the fading of what came before and the uncertainty of what lies ahead, I realized that the pause in travel between continents and social classes that characterizes our life parallels the space we walked with Scott’s dad over the last two weeks.  Liminal.  The threshold between the his four-score and five in once fit and then aging flesh plus once brilliant then increasingly troubled mind and his eternity as part of the new creation whose arc is ever upward.  We watched him withdraw from one and cross to the other and wish we knew what he struggled to tell us he saw or thought.  The valley of the shadow.

On a God’s-eye scale, this is more than a short walk through a low spot, this is the tale of our lives on earth.  We live in shadow, seeing through a glass darkly the outlines and reflections of glory that was, is and shall be.  

For us the transit back to Kenya carries some of the same loss as death.  Our trip to California was wrapped in weighty sadness, but not without its blessings too.  We had an unanticipated few days with two of our four kids.  We had weeks with Scott’s family.  We had Oceanside bike-rides and carrot cake and grilled salmon.  We had old photos and memories and hugs.  I feel even more acutely the departure from Julia who celebrates her 21rst birthday without us as we travel, and Luke who bravely strides into his own life calling.  The ache of the absence of Caleb and Jack looms as a darker shade in those shadows.

We recited Psalm 23 at Dave’s memorial service, a passage so familiar one can forget its power.  Our liminal life plays out in the valley of the shadow of death, but even here the poet claims to fear no evil.  It’s hard to grasp that such transitions from one world to the next, be it Earth to Heaven or California to Kenya, are the very place where God comes to set the feasting table.

A glimpse of that came a few hours before the restless 2 am thoughts.  London, neither old home nor current home, a threshold place between them, offered us an overflowing cup Saturday night.  Thanks to Serge social media we realized that one of our sister teams had planned a 5-year-anniversary celebration dinner for a church they had birthed.  At the last minute we contacted our friends and were embraced by their community.  Candleight and sparkling cider, immigrants and children and homeless people and students and artists and unlikely edge-people who had been gathered into a fellowship.  An hour of celebration and good food, slideshows and prayers.  Even in transit, the presence of God in God’s people.

Death makes me tired, tired of living apart, tired of the scattering and constant transition that the missionary life holds.  Tired of living on the threshold between worlds, never fully part of any.  Yet this is the cross.

A cross rearranged becomes a doorway.  Would you pray for us to hover there in the shadows of both worlds, and invite others to the party? 

1 comment:

Bobbi said...

As always, words I had not thought of saying, that speak within my heart. Bobbi Campbell