The In Between Places

I’m writing this on an airplane. Gently gliding 36,000 feet in the air, the sunrise glinting off the wings of this aluminum bird carrying me to adventure.

There’s something to be said about being in these in between places. I’ve left, but I haven’t arrived. I often get my best thinking done in transit.

I sit in quiet reverie,

partly looking back

partly gazing ahead

& partly rooted right here-

nowhere-

now here.

In transition.

Transitions have come so often in the last decade, that it has the familiarity of home. The unknown and vague expectations. The thrill of risk and the requirement of bravery, this I know.

I know God shows up and meets me sweetly in this space– the gap between the two trapeze.

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Transitions arrive with a heart wrenching mixture of uncertainty and hope. They mean vulnerability. They mean letting go and embracing. They mean waiting.

And waiting is hard.

This summer, I was on a flight, to meet up with my family for vacation. Our plane got stuck in a holding pattern, due to the severe weather. That was only after being stuck on the tarmac for three hours before taking flight. Then, rather than landing at O’Hare, we got rerouted to Indianapolis, where I waited in a line for five hours to get another flight. I got stuck in the in between place, in the longest day of travel ever.

In the waiting, I started out with a determined cheerfulness, submitting to the circumstances and making the best of it. Accepting the less than ideal situation, I preoccupied myself with reading, people watching, contemplating. All is well, all shall be well, I kept telling myself… And then the weight of impatience would slam down on me, unbidden. Like the stages of grief, I would cycle through denial (this isn’t so bad), anger (bursts of rage at the standstill line, bargaining (maybe if I go to the bathroom, the line will magically move 20 feet) to depression (this is the worst) and back to acceptance. Each time these bursts of frustration would find me more incredulous that I was still waiting. Still stuck in this holding pattern. Still betwixt.

Sometimes I get impatient with the season of apparently unending holding patterns, I fear I’m a permanent resident of this in between place, like Tom Hanks in Terminal.

Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for transitions. I don’t mind passing through them. On occasion. I have been shaped by these in between places. But God, I don’t want to be stuck there. I want transitions to occur on my own terms. I’d like them to happen efficiently, thank you very much.

And yet, I have to shake my head at my impulse to be in control. To eradicate uncertainty. I have lived through enough transitions to know that uncertainty isn’t the enemy. Fear is. That I won’t regret entering into the process, open eyes and brave enough to admit how scared I am. Over the last year, I have felt a deepening– an ability to remain in the tensions and acknowledging the complexities that reside in the in between places.

This in between place will end, just as this flight will descend. And there will be more in between places. And I don’t want to miss a single moment of it.

  

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