When We No Longer Know What to Do

“It may be when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work…”   Wendell Berry

What if the sense of powerlessness that comes with not knowing what to do, isn’t evidence of despair? What if it doesn’t even signify hopelessness, for that matter. What if it instead is a demarcation, a boundary heralding what you’ve crossed over to is liminal space?

Coming from the Latin word “limen,” liminal space is a threshold, signifying you are in an in-between time. Yet liminal space can be offputting; after all, who wants to be in that uncertain transition between where you’ve been and where you may be headed? Nor is there certainty when you’ll cross over to the other side.

Attesting to the potentiality of liminal space, poet, farmer, and environment activist Wendell Berry writes, “It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work. And when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

Prayer: Holy One, in the wake of so much upheaval, remind us of your faithfulness. Teach us to discover that the work we’ve been given to do emerges not when everything is clear – but arrives amid the uncertain and disheartening.  May even the impediments on the journey summon us to sing your praises. We ask this in all the holy names of God. Amen.

[1] Wendell Berry from Standing by Words





Author: Jessica McArdle

These are dark and corrosive times. As a writer and ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, I use prayer, poetry, reflection, and scripture to re-align our embattled spirits with the uniqueness and urgency of our God-given identity and call.

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