Ripples #1085: Liminal Space

Ripples #1085: Liminal Space
March 9, 2020


Honor the space between no longer and not yet.
-Nancy Levin, shared by Jodi in Mason, OH


It is when we are betwixt and between, having left one room or stage of life but not yet entered the next: any hiatus between the stages of life, stages of faith, jobs, loves, or relationships. It is that graced time when we are not certain or in control, when something genuinely new can happen.
-Richard Rohr, shared by Isaac in Sedona, AZ


I’ve recently worked with several organizations facing massive amounts of CHANGE and CHALLENGE, and I ended up creating a slide about liminal space when I discovered that many people aren’t familiar with the concept.

It derives from the latin root for “threshold” and refers to a place or period of transition. If you pause when you first enter a building that has a double set of doors, you may notice that before you enter the second set of doors you’re no longer OUTSIDE and yet it doesn’t quite feel like you are all the way INSIDE. You might also notice this in a stairwell, when you’re no longer on the lower floor but haven’t quite arrived at the next floor up.

Adolescence is a good time-based example of liminal space, when you no longer feel like a child and yet not quite an adult. A period of engagement prior to a wedding is similar, when you’ve decided you are no longer single, but not officially connected as a married couple.

There are plenty of times when people (individuals, teams, companies, families) are going through a big shift and find themselves in a liminal space: no longer what they used to be, but not quite what they will become. These transitions are opportunities for growth AND they also have aspects of grieving which has drawn to a close. There may also be frustration, anxiety, and/or fear about what lies ahead. And since people move through these stages at different paces, the complex mix of thoughts and feelings, can result in things said and done that exacerbate an already stressful situation.

If you or your team are in a significant state of transition right now, recognize that it is a process that will likely take a significant amount of time, energy and effort to move through. The possibilities for transformation are immense as long as you can honor the liminal space with the right mix of patience, persistence, and passion.

The Ripples Guy
P.S. Has your team been grappling with CHANGES and/or CHALLENGES? Perhaps I can help! Visit for more info.

Recent Ripples