Adam S. McHugh (author of the book “Introverts in the Church”) wrote a post this week about transitioning from his job as a hospice chaplain into a new place. A couple of the paragraphs from that post struck me deeply as I spent the week pondering this in-between place I find myself in these days, and I wanted to share them here.
But I know that if I want to transition well I must spend time in this in-between stage, often called the liminal zone, walking the tightrope between the cliff I have left and the one ahead of me. I have been in that place for a while now, but I know that I must finish my inner work of transition before I can embrace the outer change that is coming.
Transition is a sort of grieving process, in which we mourn and mark the end of what we have lost. I find myself these days frequently practicing the discipline of the long stare, not necessarily thinking about anything specific, but letting my mind disengage and my eyes lose their focus. I believe that each time I do that I let something go. I make room in my soul for something else to take its place.
Transition is a quiet place. I am trying to embrace the quiet. You would think that as an introvert I embrace quiet easily. That is not always the case. After 15 years of ministry I have learned that there are different qualities of quiet. Quiet may sound the same but it does not feel the same. There is an anxious quiet and there is a peaceful quiet. I had experiences of both in the last week, and your feelings in the quiet immediately reveal what sort it is: anxious quiet feels like hell and peaceful quiet feels like heaven. We rush to fill anxious quiet with words – even excessive, controlling words – but we slow to luxuriate in peaceful quiet, and once we have experienced it, we crave it.
Sigh… yep… I read those words again, and I definitely relate. I’m not always doing well at embracing quiet, and I’ve had quite a bit of the anxious sort of quiet this week. But I know that this place is important, and so I’m going to continue seeking Jesus in it, and reading and exploring, and waiting to see what come next.