Beyond Brushstrokes

We are living in uncertain, challenging times. We are not in control of our lives. Our set patterns have changed. What was once familiar no longer feels or looks the same. The inexplicable situation is beyond the theories, statistics, reports, charts, analyses of the medical experts and scientists, task force and the instant know-it-all pseudo-writers.

Inner feelings that have been long repressed — frustration and rage — break though the glaze-varnished surfaces, and suddenly emerge.

There’s an eruption, confusion, disorientation. The media and social media add fuel to the fire of hysteria by sensationalizing the news.

We feel a collective vulnerability in the face of the surprise global pandemic. Floating on uncharted waters and imagining the immense space are beyond our comprehension.

“Carl Gustav Jung used the word ‘liminality’ to describe that time in the process of individuation where you know you cannot go back to who you were but don’t know yet what you are becoming,” Dr. Ma. Teresa Dido Gustilo, Carl Jung Center Circle chair emeritus explained.

By definition, liminal space is a threshold. It is transitional or transformational. It is described as a waiting space between one point in time and space and another. Physical spaces would be the airport, elevator, stairwell, or a hotel hallway at night. One feels eerie if one lingers there too long. An empty art gallery with unoccupied furniture could be considered as such.

The milestones such as new jobs, marriage, childbirth, moving house, separation and death are all considered very important. They are all highly stressful.

The sudden changes are called liminal spaces.

A divorce makes a person feel lost in his life journey. The divorce is the in between station from marriage to a destination. A new life alone or with a new partner.

Losing a job is very difficult after having been employed for a long time. Moving to a new city combines mental and physical upheaval. Leaving the old town to start a new life in another place. Giving up toxic friends and letting go of difficult family members. These are all considered a “graced time” but we do not feel the grace because we are not in control.

There is a liminal veil at the transition place, called the threshold.

The term “coming of age” is when one is no longer a child but not yet an adult. A rite of passage, standing at the doorway is a threshold moment.

Mid-life is a turning point when people feel awkward, uneasy, “in-between,” feel afraid. They tend to do irrational things.

The artist’s liminal state is one “creative being.” That is the condition wherein the artist has the potential to create, write, and compose. This explains the anxiety of artists and writers when they are getting started no matter if it is a painting or a poem, or a project that has been done many times in the past.

Liminal dreaming is the state when one is not yet asleep but the mind can experience vivid images, sounds, and feeling. Sometimes, this happens when a psychic individual has a clairvoyant dream.

A recent article by Father Rohr touched on the higher dimension of spirituality and human development of the pandemic. He wrote that we are in “an immense collective liminal space.”

The goal is to keep people in that space long enough so that they can learn what is essential about life and do something new.

“This in-between place is free of illusions and false payoffs. It invites us to discover and live from broader perspectives and with much deeper seeing.”

Failing and faltering (after having been successful) abruptly makes us understand other dimensions of life.

“We need to be silent instead of speaking, experience emptiness instead of fullness, anonymity instead of persona and pennilessness instead of plenty,” he explained.

We exist during this crisis feeling caught between two worlds.

“Liminality keeps us in an ongoing state of shadowboxing instead of ego-confirmation, struggling with the hidden side of things.

“Our consciousness and that of future generations has been changed. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle,” Fr. Rohr concluded.

We should learn and accept that this entire process takes time. We have to descend and wait until we learn. This is the time when we are open to being taught because we have been humbled. It is a period when we reflect and pray and realize many things that we have taken for granted. We see what we really need and we can stop wanting too much. We can relearn and switch our ways of thinking and seeing. It is catharsis.

Then we can ascend back to the world with a fresh, creative approach. This attitude would bring a sense of freedom, wisdom, grace and gratitude.


Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.