A LIMINAL ADVENT | Part 3

*liminal: occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold*

A Liminal Advent that invokes questions and confesses we don’t have it all together, will hopefully lead to the affirmation that togetherness with those not like us is necessary.

And here is an abrupt segue into Enneagram talk.

I’m not that big into the Enneagram like my wife, sister, and many others around me. I mean, I’ve done the work of finally figuring out my number and some of my strengths, stresses, and so forth. It is intriguing and a worthy self-care project, I just haven’t yet devoted the time and resource to make it more worthwhile. But even at this nascent stage, I know one thing:

My desire for aloneness is not a bad thing.

You see, I’m a 4 (with a 5 wing) and apparently we 4s gain life from our melancholy alone time. Since I’m known for my public speaking and ability to perform, many people think I love being the life of the party. And I can be that. But I don’t love it. In fact, being in any party—whether I’m the life of it or not—drains my energy. And it’s not just parties. Crowds, group events, small social gatherings: they all feel like parties to me. In order to recuperate, I need alone time.

So at first glance, the point of this part 3 post of A Liminal Advent—togetherness—seems strange coming from me.

But because of my comfort in, and legitimate need, having regular time to myself, I’m very aware that I need others.

Some loneliness is natural and healthy.

At least for me, too much aloneness can lead, and has led, to loneliness. Some loneliness is natural and healthy. But too much aloneness which leads to too much loneliness … well, I’m convinced we’re social creatures who need each other, regardless of our Enneagram number.

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THE UN-SAMENESS OF FAMILY

To really experience togetherness, we may find we need more than just other warm bodies to be around once in a while. What I mean is, if all I surround myself with are, say Enneagram 4s, then I’m not really experiencing the robustness of togetherness.

If I surround myself only with people who are mostly like me, I don’t really know what togetherness is.

For that matter, if I surround myself only with people who are mostly like me, who think mostly like me, see the world mostly likely me, have hopes and beliefs mostly like me, then I don’t really know what togetherness is.

Consider a family. Consider yours.

I’ll consider mine.

My wife is an Enneagram 1. She is a go-getter, type A sort. We are opposite in many ways. We have three kids. Two of those kids would choose to go from party to party non-stop. They crave being around people, all sorts of people. They are opposite of me in many ways also. And the other child, she is a brilliant thinker who sees the world in ways I can’t comprehend. Not only that, she wants everything to always be fair, which is something I don’t get at all.

Of the four other people I share my life with on a daily basis, I don’t have some significant things in common with them.

Now, I know that differences tear some families apart. But we are determined to find love and grace toward each other despite, or because of, our differences. We fail at that often. But we keep getting back up and trying again.

Consider if my wife and three kids were much more similar to me. What if they perceived the world pretty much the way I do? What if they processed thoughts and emotions just like I do? That would likely bring up a host of other problems, but chief among them would be this: we would not know how to coexist with otherness.

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ALL THE EACH OTHERS

We don’t jive with the sameness that is considered blessed at the core of institutions.

I’m convinced that people on the fringes are people who learn to be together with otherness better than most. Part of this is due to necessity. We outsiders gravitate toward the liminal places precisely because we don’t jive with the sameness that is considered blessed at the core of institutions, organizations, communities, and groups.

And though the homogeneity of so many groups will likely resist or ignore such an idea, I’d suggest that a liminal Advent encourages and challenges us to experience togetherness with those not like us.

That means that I’m learning to enjoy the times I push myself out of my melancholy aloneness into sharing life with:

  • the homeless and profoundly impoverished
  • LGBTQ friends
  • non-theists
  • and yes even the occasional rich white dude
  • ok, even the occasional died-in-the-wool member of the church institution.

All of these and more are not like me in some significant ways. Yet what a joy to find out how much we share. And we liminal travelers will keep seeking each other out.

Because we need each other. All the each others.

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This post is Part 3 of the series “A Liminal Advent.” Links below will be live when the parts are published.

Invocation: Questions

Confession: We Don’t Have Our Stuff Together

Affirmation: Togetherness

Benediction: All the Pain

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