Drift lines

It is just over a week ago now that I had a cardiac procedure carried out at the Dorset County Hospital, which by great good fortune is just across the road from us, and has an excellent cardiology unit. I was able very carefully to go to meeting last Sunday, feeling tired and somewhat battered, but already in better health than I had been for a long time.

I have written elsewhere about the liminality inherent in life itself. Sitting in meeting last Sunday it came to me that I was conscious of this in a new way now. I had heard on Saturday that a Friend from our previous Area Meeting, a man I had felt close to since being one of his visitors when he applied for membership some years ago, had just died from precisely the condition for which I’d been treated.

Richard Rohr once wrote, in a slightly different context,

The edge of things is a liminal space – a very sacred place where guardian angels are especially available and needed. The edge is a holy place, or as the Celts called it, “a thin place” and you have to be taught how to live there. To take your position on the spiritual edge of things is to learn how to move safely in and out, back and forth, across and return. It is a prophetic position, not a rebellious or antisocial one. When you live on the edge of anything with respect and honour, you are in a very auspicious position. You are free from its central seductions, but also free to hear its core message in very new and creative ways.

Margery Abbott, in her excellent Pendle Hill Pamphlet Quaker Views on Mysticism, writes, 

…mysticism as known within the Society of Friends is our awareness of (or belief in) God’s presence, individually and in the corporate Meeting for Worship, an awareness that results in a changed perception of the world and a willingness to be guided by the Spirit, the Inward Light, the Christ Within. Quakerism is strongly prophetic – it is about listening for that which is eternal and bringing the divine word to the world.

We are liminal creatures, we humans; the difference between us is never so much a difference in liminality as it is a difference in our awareness of it. Over recent months I have been blessed to see this liminality for myself with a new clarity and immediacy. Our lives here seem so all or nothing to us, so identified with who we are, that we forget we live on the shoreline of something so much deeper and wider than we have imagined, the ground of all that has been made. We are just beachcombers, really, walking the drift lines amid the seaglass and old lumber, dazed and entranced by a light we cannot understand.

3 thoughts on “Drift lines

  1. Brian Longman

    Good to hear all went well, Mike. I have pre op assessment on 1st March. X Sheila

    House phone: 01483 505814 Mobile: 07986 155492

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Caroline

    Such a lovely post, Mike, thank you, and so glad you are recovering well, not least to hear more of your inspirational posts!
    Liminality is where I am at the moment too, living the questions, and I take great comfort from the Herbert poem:
    “Though I fly with angels or fall with dust
    Thy hands made both and I am there
    Thy love and power, my love and trust
    Make one place everywhere”

  3. kerstiw

    Thanks, Mike, for another valuable post. ‘And you have to be taught how to live there’ – that’s a very useful piece of knowledge. I puzzled over the moving to and fro between time and timelessness for a long time, and the connection between them, until at last I realised that the only possible place of intersection is the here and now, this moment. Duh!! But even living in that place takes some getting used to.
    The whole Huffington Post article equally interesting: ‘…that very authentic inner experience and membership allows them to utterly critique the very systems that they are a part of. You might say that their enlightened actions clarified what our mere belief systems really mean. These prophets critiqued Christianity by the very values that they learned from Christianity. Every one of these men and women was marginalized, fought, excluded, persecuted, or even killed by the illusions that they exposed and the systems they tried to reform. It is the structural fate of a prophet.’ – Very to-the-point remarks for the current on-going re-evaluation of James Nayler in the context of early Quakerism (I did the Woodbrooke online course last autumn – loads of fun, including in the discussion forum afterwards).
    Very glad to hear your procedure went well. Hope you will stick around with us in time for a good long while, rather than indulge yourself in the luxury of moving on too soon, hem hem


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