I am fascinated by places that are on the edge – either of landscapes, like the shoreline and the horizon, or of buildings, like doors, windows and gates. Places where our surroundings change, and we get a glimpse of something different.
They can be mysterious, such places. What lies behind the door, over the horizon, on the other side of the sea? What will happen to us if we venture over the edge? Should we step out in the unknown, or stay comfortably where we are and rely on hearsay and imagination to explore the other side? Of course, sometimes staying where we are is not comfortable, or not an option, but whether we must step out or choose to do so, we may do so with regrets, or without ever looking back.
I recently learned that the word for such places is 'liminal' – spaces or processes which are transitional, on a threshold – spaces where we move from one place – or one state of being – to another. Such transitions, of course, can be emotional and even scary – the child's first day at school, the bride at the church door, a new job, or the final transition at the end of life. But we cannot linger long in liminal spaces – we must walk bravely on, or turn and hurry back to the familiar places and states of being – although always affected, to some degree, by our brief experience of being on the edge.