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  • Writer's pictureMarc-Henri Sandoz

Reconceiving trauma, part 2: portal to the liminal

portal to the liminal
Le Tor, Glastonbury. Photo par Jean-Claude Rawady

Passing through cancer and leg amputation, it didn't take long for me to realize that I was entering into a very strange space. No choice.

Everything I was taking for granted was turned upside down, all my illusionary securities were shaken to the ground. My routine, my certitudes, my projects, my ideas of what would be my future, all had been swept out like ashes in the wind.

I had been introduced by the trauma I was facing into a strange place, a place of uncertainty, of darkness and turmoil. A liminal space.

What is a liminal space?

A liminal space is a place between two places or between to states. A space in which one knows he is passing through a major change of life, of status, of personality. One knows what he is leaving, but he still doesn't know what he is going to enter in.

That's exactly what was happening to me.

This place could very easily be experienced as one of terror. And truly it has been for me, in the first days. But little by little, and with the precious help of my newly rediscovered friend Jesus, I could use the peace and confidence I was receiving during my moments of breathing and meditation. And from that peace and confidence, I could stay with the terror, face it and begin to explore with curiosity that liminal space and to discover its value and beauty. I still do.

Yes it is a space of darkness, turmoil, uncertainty. Chaos in one word. But in fact what is shaken, broken and swept away are mainly my illusions of solidity and certitude, and of control over my own destiny. And what is remaining after the passage of the hurricane is a much more accurate vision of Reality. I am able to see better the impermanence of everything, including my own vision of myself. And because of that, I can relate better to a part of me and in the same time to a part of Reality that is not shaken and that is remaining quiet and intact. A place of silence and rest. Even in the middle of the turmoil.

It's the gift of chaos to me: a more accurate grasping of that place of silence and rest, in the middle of and under every noise, sound, activity, and a more accurate vision of Reality. It's what makes me confident about the new places, identity, kind of life that the liminal space is introducing me into, even when I still don't know their shape and content.

Having found better my place of rest and silence, I want my new stage of life to grow from that place.

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