At the edge.
I wanted to name this piece Liminality but I thought many might ignore it because this isn’t a word we use in everyday life. But it is one that you as parents and educators often experience. It means being at a limit which turns into a threshold. My mid-wife sister gave me a great example of it. In her experience, most women in labour reach a stage when they can’t take it anymore. A woman will say, I cannot do this, it is beyond me. My sister tells the woman how great she is doing, to put her chin on her chest and push…and then shortly, a child is born. And the women who was a ‘mess’, in her own eyes shortly before, becomes a mother.
Last Sunday’s Gospel was about the Temptations of Jesus. When he had fasted 40 days, he was tempted by the devil basically to give into himself, to opt out of the hard choices and undermine his relationship with God, and his service to us. He didn’t. He stuck in there when everything in him wanted to take the easy way. At his limits, he remained true to God and to himself.
As parents and teachers, you know these threshold moments often, though usually not in as dramatic circumstances as a woman in labour or someone in the desert. They come when you feel like watching TV instead of listening to the reading, in holding in your anger and finding a better way to respond to your child than yelling, in simply being there with them when they are hurting and you don’t know the answer to their problem. In these moments, you are on the edge, often feeling weak or confused. It would be easy to walk away but don’t. You ‘put your chin on your chest’, say a prayer and hang in there. Those are the moments when you affirm who you really are: a parent, a teacher, one who is truly prepared to risk for the sake of a relationship. Those are the moments when you go over the edge and fly.
Loving God, being a parent, being a teacher often challenges me about what I think I can do. Give me the Wisdom of your Spirit, to stay in the difficult situations I experience with my child/ren. With Jesus supporting me, may I remain faithful in love. I ask this in his name, confident that you will hear me.
Sr Kym Harris osb