Home covid-19 liminal space

liminal space

by Shawni

Oh I have so much to write. I want to write about the almost month and a half that everyone was here. There is darkness and the world is filled with so many troubles right now. But there is also light and goodness going on. I want to write about the faces of all the people I love most in the world sitting around my dinner table, siblings one-on-one and the building that went on with that (and oh, the fighting too:), the dishwasher running constantly, the morning exercising all together, the food flying out of the fridge, the work projects done together, the walking dates, the discussions, the love.

And I will write about that soon. Because I want to hold it close. It was golden and my heart was heavy with gratitude every single day for my people.

But time is what I want to write about today. The actual “space” part of it all. The time between life as we knew it and the new life as it is unfolding.

My sister-in-law Anita introduced me to Richard Rohr (he is amazing!), and Richard Rohr introduced me last week to the concept of “liminal space.”

And as I sat on the floor in my bedroom mid-day yesterday trying to meditate a little bit through life, what it means, past and present, and how to use it to my best ability, especially right now, I was so overcome with love for this liminal space we have.

Right here.

Right now.

“Liminal space is an inner state and sometimes an outer situation where we can begin to think and act in new ways. It is where we are betwixt and between, having left one room or stage of life but not yet entered the next. We usually enter liminal space when our former way of being is challenged or changed—perhaps when we lose a job or a loved one, during illness, at the birth of a child, or a major relocation. It is a graced time, but often does not feel “graced” in any way. In such space, we are not certain or in control. This global pandemic we now face is an example of an immense, collective liminal space.


“The very vulnerability and openness of liminal space allows room for something genuinely new to happen. We are empty and receptive—erased tablets waiting for new words. Liminal space is where we are most teachable, often because we are most humbled. Liminality keeps us in an ongoing state of shadowboxing instead of ego-confirmation, struggling with the hidden side of things, and calling so-called normalcy into creative question.”

Richard Rohr, Between Two Worlds
Sunday, April 26, 2020

(Please read the whole “meditation” by clicking HERE, and then read the ones from each day last week (you can use the little arrows at the bottom to scroll to the right to read all about many different aspects of liminal space and it the whole thing is so, so good.)

As I sat there contemplating, the shards of thoughts that have interwoven into the jumbled space we have had here in the midst of this pandemic started to come together. There is so much power in this space. Even the space that is pockmarked with sorrow and loss. We can take the “vulnerability and openness” of it all and create something beautiful. We can start anew and do things differently. But how?

That is what I’m trying to figure out.

I really liked this clip someone sent yesterday:

I am taking time to figure out what my own “Great Realisation” is, and it will take some work. But there is so much to learn and so much growing to do in this rare spot of liminal space.

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69 comments

Mom May 4, 2020 - 10:31 am

Absolutely LOVE this post! I have such a deep sorrow for those who have lost loved ones or for those who have died alone or are hungry or whose lives have been turned upside down with fear and anxiety. But no matter what, this is a liminal space that none of us will never forget. The picture with those two fences on each side is perfect! I loved what one of the meditations from Richard Rohr said this week about Liminal Space: the word liminal comes from the latin word limen, which means threshold. We are all standing on the threshold of the rest of our lives as we get through the coming months, wondering what will happen. What will life be like in a new normal? What will we be like? I’m enjoying embracing this threshold moment! This video says it perfectly! Who knows what will happen? How we adjust is going to be up to us. I don’t think we are ever going to be the same. It’s about time1

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Kristine May 4, 2020 - 4:43 pm

That clip is the scariest think I ever watched. Reminds me of the “Great Leap Forward..”

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Kristine May 4, 2020 - 4:46 pm

Disturbing a better word than scary.

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Sairey May 4, 2020 - 11:21 pm

Kristine, you seem to be trolling this page with many of your comments. If you don’t like the world view you can follow someone else. It takes a lot of courage and grace to share a life with other people so wholeheartedly as Shawni does. I find her posts so inspiring even though I don’t have the same beliefs. Maybe it’s time for you to stop posting.

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Kristine May 5, 2020 - 12:30 am

Is there are rule five agreeing comments for every two disagreeing comments? I have actually recently posted supportive comments. As for the bravery, it’s supportive of the new world order mindset.

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Maria May 5, 2020 - 9:59 am

Um. Excuse me? Maybe it’s time for you to mind your own business and stop thinking you can tell people what to do.

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Shawni May 5, 2020 - 4:25 pm

Please keep comments kind so I can leave them here and we can keep this a positive place. This definitely doesn’t mean you have to agree, just state your opinion in a way that respects others because everyone is coming at this from a different angle. I think we can learn so much from each other when we are trying to see each other’s point of view. No one has all the “right” answers but it’s interesting to hear different perspectives.

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Lisa May 4, 2020 - 6:20 pm

I love your blog so I don’t want to sound critical. I have seen the clip you shared on other platforms. Live in NYC and am luck and privileged. My husband and I have secure jobs and can work safely from home. My children are all home and I get unexpected time with them. I live in an area of Manhattan that is quiet and we can go for walks on uncrowded streets. But lower income neighborhoods and minority groups have been devastated by this virus. I know people from my office who have lost 2 or 3 family members. I just don’t see years from now children begging for stories about the virus and those families being able to put a spin on it that much good came from it. It would be like putting a good spin on the Vietnam War if your family suffered casualties. I do think that there are sacred and precious moments in difficult times. I do think we can learn to see more clearly what is important. But, I have a hard time with it be presented in this story book fashion and the need for us to sometimes wrap really difficult horrible things into some sort of happy ending. the economic devastations and the human casualties are too great. and marginalized groups are suffering more than ever in every country in the world because of this pandemic. I know many people feel different about this so I don’t want to sound too preachy but I really think if you suffered a great loss because of this virus this video would not be so appealing.

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Allison May 4, 2020 - 9:41 pm

I very much agree. When you come at it from a safe home and lots of extra time with family and walks outside it is easy to see this. The millions who don’t know where their next meal will come from, will starve to death, and all of the other devastation they face, that clip is very disturbing.

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Allison May 4, 2020 - 9:51 pm

I also wanted to say I don’t want to sound critical either. I really like your blog as well. But to me that video clip is disturbing propaganda.

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Maria May 5, 2020 - 10:02 am

I agree, and I don’t care if I sound critical. It’s a video to validate the bubble.

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Shannon May 5, 2020 - 10:26 am

I agree it’s disturbing and icky and feels a bit like propaganda. It’s also odd, tone deaf and ill-timed. This just started…seems a little early to wax poetic about it.

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Shawni May 5, 2020 - 11:24 am

I have a lot to say about these comments but am needed elsewhere at the moment. I will come back, but I do want to say how interesting it is that we are all coming at this little clip from such different places and that’s ok. To me I didn’t feel like it was wrapping up horrible things into a happy ending. To me it reminded me that even in times of darkness and sorrow, there is goodness to be found. A time to slow down. A time to reset. Our world is an amazing place, and there is so much goodness in it, but maybe we do need to rethink some things about how it’s all working, how WE are all working during this time. We are not all in the same boat, as was so eloquently stated here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_LOOaBhgSz/ (I have a post I meant to post this morning with that link…maybe I’ll still get to it today). If that clip doesn’t resonate with you, that’s ok! But it did for me, so I wanted to share.

And guys, look at those links for liminal space…I think those who didn’t like the video will love those thoughts!

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Jennifer May 4, 2020 - 9:09 pm

I love this post! It is exactly what I needed today. Thank you for sharing!

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Lisa Larsen May 5, 2020 - 2:11 am

I also love your blog and don’t want to sound critical either, but for all those people who have lost a loved one due to covid-19, this vido is like a slap in the face. I think sharing this video is not okay.

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Shawni May 5, 2020 - 4:39 pm

To me, it is just an encouragement to keep growing and learning, to change the things we can to make the world a better place going forward.

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Kara M May 6, 2020 - 10:57 am

You nailed it here. To you, it’s “just an encouragement to keep growing and learning…” To others, it’s so much more. Opinions are not correct or incorrect but they are all valid. We must find ways to share opinions openly, validate the opinions of others, and try and educate each other along the way. Opinions are based on facts and we need to make sure the collective we are using facts. That means being open to learning from others. Every communication offers an opportunity to learn something!!

As a side note, I’ve been trying really, really, really, hard to not use the word “just” so I notice it when others use it. The use here kept me coming back to this comment. I keep wondering why it was used. What were you trying to convey with that statement, intentionally or unintentionally? I’m only mentioning the observation because it seems you enjoy metacognition. I have no desire to pretend like I know you well enough to take a guess at what you were thinking!

Your blog and commenters make me think and grow, all from people I’ve never met. Thank you.

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Andrea May 5, 2020 - 6:28 am

Thank you so much for this!

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Bobbie May 5, 2020 - 7:01 am

I think the message is progress coming from pain. What would make this painful situation worse would be to experience it and return to the status quo. The message seems to be learning from and improving lives and taking care of our priorities (people and planet).

Continuing with life as usual is double tragedy after loss of life. People are dying unnecessarily due to socioeconomic inequalities, lack of resources, and a degree of political indifference. Let’s hope that we can look back on this time as when we decided to change that.

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Shawni May 5, 2020 - 4:32 pm

Amen.

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Lindsay May 5, 2020 - 5:14 pm

Bobbie- I agree with everything you said. We will certainly learn a lot from this as a society and some things will change for the better. However, I think the issue with the video is it takes it to an extreme level of romanticizing a pandemic that literally has and will negatively impact thousands of people’s lives. I am sure this video does not resonate with the essential workers who are in the thick of it right now (some, who will go on to experience PTSD) or those who have lost a loved one. I agree there is hope that we will look back on this and learn from it, grow and improve our lives, planet, healthcare and political systems, etc. But I disagree with the extreme storybook/fairytale sentiment of the video. A pandemic that kills thousands of people and destroys thousands of lives is not a feel good bedtime story.

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Christine May 5, 2020 - 7:12 am

My doctor shared that video with me recently, needing to find some hope in the middle of chaos. I agree that obviously some people are hit much harder than this by others and we need to be supportive and sensitive (I’m a school counselor and hear the devastating stories every day right now), and I also think it’s okay to believe some hope and collective healing can come from this.

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Lynne May 5, 2020 - 8:02 am

I’m with the ‘this is full of propaganda’ camp. For small business owners hanging on by a thinner & thinner string it would be hard to watch this. What bothers me is that it makes the world before covid-19 look like a horrible place to be & this virus saved us all from ourselves. No one cared about the planet, homeless people etc. which is ridiculous. I saw on facebook someone post that their grandmother had passed away from covid-19 because they didn’t have the medical resources – basically saying it was the government’s fault. While I felt sad for her, was it the lack of medical resources that caused the grandmother to die or the virus? All the medical resources in the world would probably not have saved an elderly woman with the virus. It’s little statements like that, they seep in & we start to blame all the ills & problems on others or the government. I’m all for hope but all the problems we had before covid will still be there after tenfold.

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Shawni May 5, 2020 - 4:49 pm

I agree, I think this whole pandemic will certainly bring with it a whole set of new problems. Who can even begin to guess the ripple effects? That’s why I think hope is more important than ever right now. Remembering the most important things in life and cherishing them.

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Lauren May 5, 2020 - 8:33 am

I am just dying to hear how it went with all those kids!

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Shawni May 6, 2020 - 10:23 am

Thank you, Lauren! Hope I will get to that at some point soon.
xoxo

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Ciara May 5, 2020 - 8:42 am

Thank you for always sharing Shawni. I often think about how difficult it must be to share and open yourself up for criticism. It’s one thing to open up to family and friends and receive their feedback, it’s a whole other challenge on the internet, where everyone is bold behind their keyboards. So thank you.

While there were parts of the video that I felt romanticized the current pandemic situation, I can see both sides of what others are saying. There are those who are going through the unimaginable. The fact that we all have the technology and freedom to access to your blog shows that we are all very lucky, even when everything in our lives doesn’t feel that way.

My significant other has experienced job loss and we’ve had some financial hardship during all of this. I have had to lay off employees I’ve loved working with. My parents work in a hospital and an airport. I recognize and thank God every day that we have remained healthy. There are many parts of this situation that I cannot wait to end. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find positive takeaways. I’ve gotten good at experimenting with food we have to create meals, because I can’t easily leave to go to the store and can’t spend more money on groceries. I want to continue that when this is all over! I want to continue being able to strictly budget, even after our incomes have returned. I’ve been inspired to make sure my family is more financially prepared in the future. I want to continue weekly phone conversations with my parents, when we previously talked a handful of times a year on the phone. And most importantly, I don’t want to ever take for granted another day I get to live and to love.

Just because there are more horrific things taking place during this doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge the positives (especially the positives regarding nature and earth!). My grandparents experienced tragedies during immigration, wars, the depression, and yet still managed to tell those stories to us, always pointing out the lessons and how those tragedies shaped who they were. It’s hard for us to see it now, but one day our generation will be the one telling stories of our own tragedies.

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Lisa May 5, 2020 - 9:28 am

I think it is the storybook fashion in which they relate the pandemic and the way the child begs for it as if it is his favorite. This really is a very horrific event. I live very close to the World Trade Center and was here during that attack. Thankfully my family remained safe. In the aftermath my children’ school pulled together, I became very close with neighbors and forged strong friendships that exist tot his day but it will always remain a truly horrific event, not something to recall as lessons learned. More people have died in the city from COVID than perished on 9/11. I hope when the next generations reflect on these events it is with solemnity and reverence. I think the hard work to make things better –like building a public health system and making sure those suffering are taken care of-before we can romanticize the situation.
Again, I really like this blog and admire Shawni. I don’t come here to berate or take apart anyone. But I think this situation is one where those of us who are doing okay need to do more listening and learning than wrapping things up in nice packages.

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Ciara May 5, 2020 - 9:36 am

Lisa, your last sentence there is a good one! Thank you for your comment and insight. All your comments on here were very kind and straightforward. I didn’t think you were berating. The first part of my comment was directed toward Shawni, because there are definitely times she’s gotten comments that are NOT kind. I enjoy her blog even when I don’t agree, and I would hate for her to want to stop posting because of comments.

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Shawni May 6, 2020 - 10:27 am

Thank you for your thoughts, guys. It is a delicate balance for sure, to find ways to progress and continue to live in troubled times. I totally get how the storybook fashion can seem a little abrasive.

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Kimberly May 5, 2020 - 10:12 am

I’m a long time reader and for years have said many positive things on this blog. For years I’ve felt like you and I would be fast friends if things were different.

I’m in New Jersey and we are being hammered by COVID-19. The case rate for a state our size is jarring and it is decidedly not peaceful, even for my husband and I who are privileged enough to be able to work from home for a few weeks longer. I’m currently up to 2 coworkers, 2 friends, and 1 acquaintance who have caught COVID-19. They are all in stages of recovery, but is a long and hard road, even for those who weren’t hospitalized.

How quickly your family will return to your previous busy lifestyle once this lifts? Are you all learning how it’s nice to have more slow time together or next fall/spring will it again be intensive choirs and travel sports and internships abroad and international vacations and weekend getaways? The lessons learned from this (which, honestly, we should be learning more about science and less about clapping for science) should be learned by all of us, not just other people.

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Shawni May 6, 2020 - 10:30 am

That’s what I’m trying to figure out (the reason I shared the video), what are the things that have changed that we want to keep? I think everyone will get different answers to this question but I think it is important to evaluate.

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Nancy May 5, 2020 - 1:48 pm

I live Richard Rohr! He’s amazing!
Be Safe~

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Nancy May 5, 2020 - 1:49 pm

*love, not live

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sairey May 5, 2020 - 2:29 pm

I loved this post. Such a great take on liminal space and thanks for the Richard Rohr recommend. Lovely.

I also loved the video because it shows something good could possibly come of something so dark. And that’s the way of life. “There’s a crack in things, that’s how the light gets in.”

That’s not being naive. It’s how things actually work. Life has horrific pain and loss and we always have the opportunity to grow from it. Why did we respect and value our grandparents generation so much…in part because they had been forged through the hardest of times. World War, Depressions, Pandemics that ravaged the globe. It’s songs like “It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow” that got my grandmother and father through their war service where so many of the family did not return. They all took lessons from it like ‘never again’ and ‘lest we forget’.

We are doing it tough now after years of unprecedented growth but also disparity. American middle class has shrunk massively over the past 50 years with the bottom half of the country sliding into the working poor and haven’t had a minimum pay rise in 20 years while the Waltons are worth more than the bottom 50% of the country. So I would like to think this would be a time where we see that some people don’t have the savings to make it through one week without work. That’s not okay.
The bubble theory is a pretty good one amongst countries and part my family living in Australiasia where we have had our second day of no new cases. So if you don’t like it because you’re on the right that’s fine, but it’s an approach that works. I know that my sister who works in an ER would far prefer to be there now than in the US with no PPE.
There’s plenty of evidence that global warming will get us regardless. Having lived through basically no summer in Australia with the massive bush fires and being locked in the city and having families being evacuated by the beach in some coastal towns I fear that this will get lost in the pandemic. We were burning. This video suggests that change is needed and it’s needed now.

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Kristine May 6, 2020 - 8:35 am

The minimum wage has risen in the last 20 years. The only things that have gone up dramatically is the cost of universities despite taxes, tuition, federal grant and loan money, endowments, making money off facility use, research and athletics AND healthcare premiums. If you are in a blue state property taxes are 3% the value of the house. That makes it tough for renters since landlords have to make enough to pay taxes on the income and property taxes and clear a profit.

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Angela May 5, 2020 - 2:44 pm

Wow, I really like that video. I often wonder how we will explain this pandemic to the those that come after us. I truly hope it has a happy ending for us all.

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Kristine May 6, 2020 - 8:39 am

We have spent exactly 10 minutes talking about the Spanish flu and only because of tv shows like Downton Abby. Outside NYC we spend about a day thinking about 9/11. People are trying to make this into something special for the future. You can’t write future history in the present. How often do we think about Hiroshima or Pearl Harbor? Japan has been an ally and suddenly after ww2 former allies because enemies.

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Lisa May 5, 2020 - 3:40 pm

Of course we can learn from situations but the dead are not even buried yet (literally). It feels disrespectful to make it in to a bedtime story. Would you tell someone whose husband just died… you are goi go to learn a lot from this? Of course not. Those of who are privileged should not be leading the charge on what can be learned from this. I think Americans want to see the shiny parts of a bad situation right away…. may it is our desire for quick gratification or inability to sit in discomfort.

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Hayley May 5, 2020 - 4:16 pm

Lisa,

I think that is one of the differences here. Many LDS people would absolutely tell you to your face that you are going to learn a lot from this when your husband just died – even before you get to the funeral. We are taught not to ask “why me?“ but to ask “what can I learn from this?” And while *I* think that saying things like that to one who is in the middle of incredible loss is absolutely insensitive and not “mourning with those who mourn” there are a lot of people who genuinely don’t. People who are circulating these types of posts and are exulting in the amazing opportunity “we” have to slow down and reset are obviously not essential workers. They are definitely not doctors and nurses. They do not have family members fighting for their lives in the hospital that they can’t visit and who might die alone. They are not working two full-time jobs at home and trying to homeschool their kids. They just don’t see it, it doesn’t exist in any sort of real way for them. As I stated above, you’re not going to get that type of awareness here – those concerns are not part of this blog’s project.

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Shawni May 5, 2020 - 5:07 pm

I hope we learn from the times when we are in the midst of incredible loss. I don’t think we’re in the position to learn and gain from excruciating circumstances when we’re right in the middle of them. I don’t think our hearts and our minds have the capacity to learn much then. But I do think we can learn after that “liminal time.” That’s why I was hoping people would read more of the Richard Rohr articles because they talk so much more eloquently about this than I ever could! I’m sorry the liminal space thoughts sort of got derailed by the video but here is one part of one of the messages that I think speaks to this thought:

“There is deep beauty in the darkness, in the unknowing, in the indescribable, if only we can open ourselves to its purpose. Metaphorically, the dark emotions of grief, fear, and despair can be profound teachers and guides…The primal howl of existential suffering holds within the lesson that we must all learn at some time in our lives: to heal from suffering – not merely to ease or palliate it, but to transform it into the source and substance of our growth and wisdom – requires a journey through it. We must listen attentively for whatever message it has for us and…find authentic ways to befriend it so that we can surrender to its transmuting power.

— dark liminality, Tuesday April 28th, Richard Rohr

“Like Jonah in the belly of the sea monster, we are led where we do not want to go – not once, but many times in our lives. Dwelling in unsettling liminal space, whether we are pushed or we jump, we are led to draw on resources and possibilities we may not have tapped before. In the unknown space between here and there, younger and older, past and future, life happens. And, if we attend, we can feel the Holy Spirit moving with us in a way that we may not be aware of in more settled times. In liminal time and space, we can learn to let reality – even in its darkness – be our teacher, rather than living in the illusion that we are creating it on our own.. We can enter the liminal paradox: A disturbing time and space that not only breaks us down, but also offers us the choice to live in it with fierce aliveness, freedom, sacredness, companionship, and awareness of Presence.

— the liminal paradox, April 29, Richard Rohr

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Melissa May 6, 2020 - 9:38 am

Hayley, I think you are right – it is part of the culture of the LDS church to skip the mourning part and go straight to “Let’s sum up what we learned from this.” Or “Be grateful for this awful thing that happened to you.” Those are both possible coping strategies for small disappointments and moderate difficulties, but not OK when someone has experienced tragedy. Eventually, loss has to be followed up by the healing that can come from looking for positives, but it’s too soon to go there now. If anything, I think that is why people might have objections to this post – it’s too soon. And to Lisa, above, LDS people do tell those who grieve that they will learn a lot from their loss – I guess it works for some people. It happened to me personally – no grief allowed. Someone you love dies and you are asked to be comforted immediately by the thought of gaining a life lesson, growing in faith because of your pain, and being grateful to God for the trial that will make you a better person. A respectable period of time needs to pass before we start talking about ways the pandemic was great for us.

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Shawni May 6, 2020 - 10:41 am

I’m not sure why “LDS people” are the ones being categorized here, but that’s an interesting take. We do believe that this life is a time to progress and learn, so perhaps that’s part of it? I’m so sorry if someone made you feel like grief is not allowed. It is an important part of human nature. I’m not sure who came up with the “seven stages of grief” which lead to “acceptance and hope” but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, but maybe? I think universally people believe and hope for learning and acceptance from grief, but the mourning process is real and important and I’m so sorry if someone tried to hurry you through it. 🙁

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Hayley May 6, 2020 - 1:32 pm

Shawni,

I think LDS people are being categorized here because you, the person who wrote this post, are LDS, a lot of your readers are LDS ( including me) and that clearly shapes the way we respond to this pandemic. (also see your other post on how things would work out and the reaction there.)It shapes the way your parents respond to it – for example their podcast where they discuss Elle’s wedding and then move into silver linings about this pandemic.. It is definitely an aspect of our culture and the seven stages of grief allows for things like bargaining and anger which are generally not part our mainstream discourse ie General Conference on loss. The seven stages model allows you to spend a significant amount of time in the other stages before you get to acceptance and hope. (Btw, this is only one model of grief or loss and people don’t experience them as necessarily sequential.) I think it’s good to discuss LDS culture and explain to others what might lie behind our worldview and even think about how we can improve as a people.

Maria May 7, 2020 - 9:34 am

It’s not an insult that we are referring to “LDS people”. You are an LDS person. You make it a point to always remind your blog readers of that. We don’t mind, we read your blog anyway. But your LDS religion, background, culture – it most definitely shapes the way you think of this pandemic – for better or for worse – and it should. You are very devoted to your church and so yes, it should shape your views on most everything. One of your sisters on their blog (Saren or Saydi, can’t remember) made a point to say that when her kids were little and asked about Lucy and her issues – she told them that God chose Lucy to go through that so everyone could learn from it. So, yes the LDS culture does takes something horrible and makes it look like a gift from Heavenly Father.

Sairey May 12, 2020 - 11:16 pm

Yeah I don’t get why this is being seen as an LDS thing at all. My LDS family don’t agree on much at all and are absolutely no different to other Christians who have a very wide range of beliefs. If you don’t like the views expressed in a personal blog, read another blogger. Or even better, try writing your own blog and leave the comments section open. Just be sure when you do that, you reply as graciously and kindly as Shawni.

Erin May 5, 2020 - 3:58 pm

Thank you for this post! The video was also fantastic. Shared on FB. Never heard of Richard, but I sure love what he says. Signed up for his devotionals.

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Kristen Arnett May 5, 2020 - 10:47 pm

Ahh I just love your thoughts here so much! I have heard of Richard Rohr recently and have been told that his book Falling Upward is amazing…just signed up for his meditations, thank you! I have found myself with so many of the same questions and ponderings this past week…what do I want to take away from this and keep in our life going forward? What have been the best/most sacred things we’ve learned that we want to never forget? Grateful for your posts as always!

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Yvonne May 5, 2020 - 11:31 pm

If one of your children were to die, I would hope that you or your readers would not think:

“existential suffering holds within the lesson that we must all learn at some time in our lives: to heal from suffering – not merely to ease or palliate it, but to transform it into the source and substance of our growth and wisdom”

The death of your child does not have to be accompanied by a “lesson”, now or years later.

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Shawni May 6, 2020 - 10:52 am

Agreed, I do not think you have to find a “lesson” in everything that happens, but I also think it is important to figure out how to let light in somehow. I have a friend going through the loss of her child right now. It is something she will never “heal” from, she will carry that sorrow forever. But she is is always searching for light and goodness and I think that’s what gives her purpose and hope. She is still fighting to progress. And I learn so much from her.

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Rachel D. May 6, 2020 - 5:34 pm

I think this is my comment day! Last one, I promise. 🙂 I’m interested in how some of the readers here have taken this post to mean that you are urging them to find a “lesson” from the pandemic. So I think this is my comment to that group. I didn’t see you state that. But it got me thinking. I think you are saying you hope to find MEANING. Our amazing human brains are wired to find meaning, to tell ourselves a story, in any situation. We even get a little dopamine reward when we find a ending that makes sense. The two major grief scientist/researchers–Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler–are the ones who write about the stages of grief. Kubler-Ross came up with them in the 70s (I think) and never intended them to be taken as sequential stages, and in fact was writing about the five stages of dying–of facing your own imminent death. Kessler worked and researched with her for years, and after losing his own son unexpectedly, eventually came up with a sixth “stage”–that of finding meaning. He says that after a tragedy, after a time, many find a way to move through their grief in a way that honors their lost loved ones. Creating meaning and beauty out of ashes does NOT mean they don’t wish with all their might that they still had the loved one with them, or wouldn’t jump at the chance to prevent the tragedy that had happened. I highly recommend listening to him on Brene Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us.

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Alma May 6, 2020 - 1:21 am

The other night I finished watching a Netflix documentary ‘Daughters of Destiny’ and somewhat after that I read this post and the first thought I had after reading that about ‘liminal space’ was actually that documentary. Maybe it’s not what you’ve been referring to but I can’t recommend it enough. It warmed my heart, made it sad and made it hopeful at the same time, and made me think and hopefully act and in my humble opinion it’s also reflecting something of that idea of ‘liminal space’ in the best possible way. Thank you for your post xx

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Shawni May 6, 2020 - 10:53 am

I will have to check it out! Thank you for the recommendation.
xoxo

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Maria May 6, 2020 - 9:43 am

Shawni, I love how you answer the comments you want, and delete ones that would require a more thought out response. A “hard thing”. I’m sure you will delete this one too, but before you do, you really should consider whether you can handle ALL comments, like your sister Charity.

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Shawni May 6, 2020 - 11:15 am

Hey Maria, I feel like you are angry much of the time. I am sorry for that, and wish I could help in some way. I hope you will notice that I really have tried over and over again through the years. But answering berating and angry comments just doesn’t seem to do much good. For you or anyone else. Because this is a public blog, of course people can say what they want, and I love to learn from everyone that has constructive things to say, really, especially those who do not agree with me. I love learning from other points of view. But because it is my blog, I will be erasing the ones that seek to attack or that are bullying. They just don’t do anyone any good. Sorry for your comment I erased in this post, but perhaps if you’d like me to address things you can ask in a non-attacking way.

And also, Charity just plain rocks and I’m not nearly as nice as she is. Love her so much!

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Jenny also May 6, 2020 - 11:44 am

Having followed you both for years I don’t think this is about Charity being “nice.” What I admire about Charity is the way she has really grown and changed. She apologizes when she’s wrong and really tries to do better instead of defending herself. Charity comes from the same protected bubble and has been able to expand her world view considerably. That a lot harder work than being “nice.” Charity talks openly about her struggles, and answers challenging questions/comments in such a honest way.

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Shawni May 6, 2020 - 12:22 pm

She really is the best and I so agree. She is exceptionally gifted at this and I admire her so much. I aspire to be more like that sister of mine in so many ways!

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Maria May 6, 2020 - 2:19 pm

The thing is, I’m not angry. It’s just that I think I am struggling with wanting you to be something you are not – culturally aware, less privileged, etc – things that I now see that you cannot help. It’s how you were raised, it’s a by product of your religion. It’s not a bad thing, really – I know you have a lot of stressful things going on in your life, and if it helps you to see everything through rose colored glasses, then that’s just how it is. Your blog is not deep, as was commented (and deleted) by someone else earlier. And I need to stop being frustrated with that and just read the blog for what it is.

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Rachel D. May 6, 2020 - 5:05 pm

I’m listening to Glennon Doyle’s Untamed right now, and I love how she writes that we all have a creative power within us to bring something beautiful into the world–a family, a work of art, literature, a garden, a circle of friends, a nonprofit, a dream and goodness that we can share with humankind. Over the years, I’ve watched Shawni use her creative power to bring beautiful things into the world. Just like all of us, she gets to make mistakes, gets to keep learning and growing and changing. How could I ever pinpoint where someone else is in their personal journey? How could I truly know their heart? If this family blog that Shawni shares is not blazing a trail at the forefront of social justice, tearing down systems of oppression, calling to dismantle the colonizers’ tools, does that mean that she isn’t culturally aware or that she does not know her privileged positionality in the world? Is that the purpose of what she’s birthing into the world? Or, could that be another’s calling? It’s wonderful to absorb and read and listen to multiple voices. There are so many other thinkers also creating beautiful content, and maybe you would like to follow some of them, too, to feel like you get to hear multiple stories from multiple perspectives. That is the wonder of what we all bring to the world–we can join together to create a diverse, complex tapestry of creativity and wisdom.

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Hayley May 6, 2020 - 5:20 pm

I made the comment that was (I think wrongly) deleted and to clarify my position, I don’t think that Shawni isn’t “deep” – she just has a different orientation and priorities. In her public writing at least, she tends towards a more conservative social and political orientation thus a greater emphasis on personal liberty vs. sacrificing for public good as we’ve seen here in the debates about social distancing. It’s a good lesson – nice, attractive people hold views that might stand in opposition to ours and that in some cases we might even think are dangerous. I read this blog because I’m interested in the dynamics of large LDS families, I like the escapism of following what a wealthy family does and because I am actually fascinated by the question of why American Mormons are so committed to individualism and conservative politics when they have such communitarian roots. I really do think one becomes a “less angry” reader when we stop trying to make a blogger into something they aren’t.

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Maria May 7, 2020 - 9:49 am

Totally agree, Hayley. Shawni frequently deletes my comments, none of which are particularly snarky. My feelings were hurt at first but then I realized that she might be deleting them because they make her think too deeply – may threaten to poke a small hole in the bubble. It’s the blog equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and going “lalalalala” rather than hear what the person is saying.

Sar May 13, 2020 - 8:34 pm

Maria, actually your comments are exceptionally patronising and snarky in tone. Read what you have written, you clearly think that your world view is better than Shawni’s and you are basically using your comments to correct her. Seriously. You think that she deletes your comments because they make her ‘think too deeply’? Come, now. That’s just an insult, pure and simple. You’re basically insulting someone on their page and you expect them not to delete? You do sound angry. Find someone who’s world view you agree with and leave the people you don’t agree with alone in peace.

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Jane May 6, 2020 - 10:00 am

In all of “lessons to be learned” from this pandemic, has anyone mentioned the overwhelming evidence of comorbidities in the rate of fatality – diabetes, obesity, hypertension, coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc? Having worked in healthcare for years, I hope this is a wake-up call for personal responsibility concerning lifestyle, diet, and wellness habits.

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Rachel D May 6, 2020 - 4:41 pm

Shawni, I love Richard Rohr’s beautiful soul. I discovered his book Falling Upward last summer as I was driving my kids home to Seattle from Utah, and I listened to it all the way up. His insights are so profound! Falling Upward is about the two halves of our spiritual lives. I guess I’m entering the “second half” and so he really spoke to me. I love that you linked his meditations and I’m so excited to check them out, thank you! I decided early on in the quarantine era (after a few crazy years of graduate school, now starting out as a new therapist, and still ushering my four girls through high school/middle/elementary) to take advantage of the Covid Pause and “sit” at the feet of wise thinkers and writers, to soak in some wisdom and really meditate on it while I have a bit more headspace. I’ve loved Glennon Doyle’s Untamed, listening to Brene Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us, and I have Sue Monk Kidd books lined up and ready to go. Plus some other great podcasts & meditations along the way. It’s so nice to fill our cups as often as we can during this liminal space (I’ve always loved that phrase since my English major days). Because I have a feeling that, like you said, we’re being given an opportunity to emerge changed forever.

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Kim M. May 6, 2020 - 5:35 pm

As a Canadian, we have not been hit nearly as hard by COVID-19 as some of our US friends. I personally don’t know a single person who has contracted the virus and our hospitals in Alberta are not over run. While I have been laid off, I have enough resources saved that it has not been financially stressful. Coming from this place of luxury, I am able to appreciate the hope for change and improvement I think you have tried to express in this post. I love going for walks and hearing so much more bird song in my urban neighbourhood. I love seeing families spend time together and visiting with neighbours from a safe distance. The biggest outbreaks we have seen in our country have been in long term care facilities in some provinces. The pandemic has shone a light on the cracks in our health care system and will hopefully be the impetus for future improvement in the way we care for our elderly. Thank you for sharing these thoughts about liminal space. I had never heard the term before and loved the quote you shared! I also saw this news clip interviewing Yuval Harari the same day of your post. They both see reason for optimism in this dark time. https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1733661763698

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richard eyre May 6, 2020 - 9:21 pm

I like the Harari piece Kim. He illustrates that hope is not the exclusive domain of the religious.
And grief and hope are not mutually exclusive,
Nor are fear and optomism.
I have always loved and respected my daughter Shawni’s capacity to see things from many different angles and to respect the feelings and opinions of everyone….and then to choose what works best for her.
Love you Shawni, and love that we can all fast and pray tomorrow for darling Lucy in her surgery.

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Kristine May 6, 2020 - 9:54 pm

Instead of the Franciscan gentleman I think many commenters here should take a look later this year at the upcoming book on Pope Benedict. Social excommunication. I think the comments on this page make his point. Just name calling when you are perceived as having a different view, which she doesn’t even appear to have. Nice to just stick people who you think are not as enlightened as yourself as being ‘privileged’ and ‘part of the problem’. But that is the social excommunication the retired pontiff is talking about society just shutting people out who has or appears to have a different opinion on a handful of issues or different lifestyle (Christian denomination) than the ‘popular ones’. We went from I won’t join the church because… to all the people who are members are ‘deplorable’. If she doesn’t leave her church and downsize to a 3 bedroom townhome she will always be less enlightened in the eyes of some here.

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