Liminal states

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I am, like many bloggers it seems, fond of cats. It’s not only their beauty, nor their particular brand of self-possessed affection, but their wholeheartedness that touches me. Cats don’t do things by halves. Asleep, they are among the most peaceful of animals; awake, their alertness and one-pointed attention put to shame the most vigilant of humans. And yet, cats are liminal in a way we scarcely understand, at least as adults. The sleeping cat can be fully awake, totally focused well within a second if danger, or prey, makes the slightest sound. The most alert of cats can move to inscrutable reverie between breaths.

Alan Watts, in What Is Tao?, writes of cats climbing trees, and of how easily and fluidly they cope with falling, dropping down completely relaxed, and landing lightly without harm. He goes on to say,

In the same way, it is the philosophy of the Tao that we are all falling off a tree, at every moment of our lives. As a matter of fact, the moment we were born we were kicked off a precipice and we are falling, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. So instead of living in a state of chronic tension, and clinging to all sorts of things that are actually falling with us because the whole world is impermanent, be like a cat. Don’t resist it.

It seems to me that our “minding the light” in worship finds us in a state of mind a cat might appreciate. There are tides in silence, an ebb and flow in our hearts’ openness to the Spirit. The Meeting moves with these tides, the passage of them quite palpable between us. It is almost by definition a liminal state: the human in us become defenceless, open, relaxed, that of God within us each alive, alert to the Light itself, to the very presence and intent of God.

(Photo: Mike Farley)

2 thoughts on “Liminal states

    1. Mike Farley Post author

      Yes, that’s Tifa. We also have her huge grey uncle, Griffin. I must find an excuse to post a picture of him too, one day…


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