Between Seasons

When  August is drawing to a close – particularly after the Bank Holiday – I always have a sense of the season starting to shift. The light becomes more tawny and slant; there’s a new chill in the breeze and the clear, light evenings of June have given way to twilight’s earlier curtain. It may not be Autumn quite yet, but it is no longer quite Summer. 

Change is in the air. September brings the new term that starts the academic year, alongside the fading of the garden’s summer glory. Beginnings interweave with endings: Teachers and students step up a gear; parents may be breathing a sigh of relief.

As August ends we can find ourselves in an in-between period of liminal space, from the word ‘limen’ , meaning threshold. Liminal space is not limited to the seasons of the natural world. It appears in our own life’s seasons and experiences. I write in the company of two young felines chasing round the room – no longer kittens, but not yet fully-fledged adult cats. I sit with a health issue not yet serious enough for surgery, but painful enough to be a problem. 

Perhaps you are taking on a new job where you have the title, but not yet the experience to feel it belongs to you; perhaps you are letting go of a role or even place, and are feeling the loss of home in location or family.

Liminal space brings us into the discomfort of unfamiliar territory. Even a desired change involves loss, though we may not be aware of it till we’re on the move. We’ve left the old, but not yet reached the new. In this ‘time of interim,’ as the poet John O’Donohue puts it, ‘everything seems withheld.’ 

Discomfort may tempt us to yearn for the past or make a dash for the future. But liminal space brings its own treasures. As we reflect on where we are, writing can help us take stock, live in the present and hear what it has to say. Liminal space may be a valuable time of learning, releasing, or preparation. 

John O’Donohue’s poem  For the Interim Time brings its own wisdom. You can read it in full  here . Take time to read it slowly, more than once. You may find it helpful to write ‘the poem behind the poem.’ Listen for the line or two that catches your attention – snags your mind or heart like the gentle catch of a sleeve on a door-handle. Copy it out at the top of your page. Underneath, write the lines that occur to you as you sit with your interim time. 

Alternatively you could simply sit down at this month-turn and free-write for five minutes, starting from the prompt  ‘The most important thing at the moment is……’

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