When Liminal Time Meets Technology

It’s Epiphany morning. Here’s what I wrote at earliest light, following my purest intentions and my personal tradition of defining Epiphany as a time-out-of-time. Just before a tiny techno glitch grabbed me and shook me by the heels:

I love this liminal time.  The time between dark and light. I resist electricity and grope my way by candlelight before meditating each morning. The light grows gradually as I sit, then pick up my pen and journal and stumble my way back to waking awareness, writing all the while to remind myself of the intersection between the external world and my own voice, between the group heart and my own. The upheaval of the holidays is behind and what’s left is to live into the tender newness.

My morning practice of early January is resolution-free. I listen to the stirrings of newness, without acting or even making a “priority list.” My only goal is to find my own deepest commitments. It’s a time to clear the mind, a time of waiting and listening. Allowing the tumult to settle so my inner life can open into the deepest sea of kindness.

What I’ve learned is that Jan. 1st is just too soon after the holiday for me to hear my deeper promptings. So for many years, Epiphany, which happens to be today,  has felt like my own personal, quiet holiday. Some years I’ve spent the day in silence. Others I’ve dedicated the day to challenging myself to live in mindfulness (and forgiveness when I forget). Whatever I do, it’s a propitious date for settling once again into myself. 

What arrives from the transitional, liminal time, feels deeply grounded in kindness, rather than ego.

But what if whatever arrives comes from the ethers of technology? I hadn’t allowed for that . . .

At a pause in the writing/being state, I took just a little peek “to keep up with email.” Why not? I thought. I answered a couple of crucial ones and smiled as I glanced over the blogs and newsletters of a couple of friends. Peace. Kindness.

And the next moment I realized that I’d lost everything that had been patiently waiting for my response in my inbox. One of my soft resolutions this year has been to refrain from reacting to problems immediately, unless there’s a crisis.

And this. Was. A. Crisis. I was convinced, even as I saw it was not.

Technology has a way of interfering with my purest of intentions, just as it supports them. The proverbial horns of a dilemma. Do I disrupt the quietness of the morning by solving the email problem, which means asking for help from my loyal spouse, who is blessedly helpful and gifted at tech support?  (I know. I’m a very lucky woman.) Or do I continue savoring the silence and deal with it later? And, if I decide on the latter, will I truly let it be until then, or will concerns about the problem leak into this perfect clean slate of a day?

A sigh slipped out as I asked for help. Then a pause for gratefulness that I could ask and probably receive it.  Followed by a deep realization: this was not an either/or proposition. In the moment I could see the opportunity to do this one thing, deal with the missing email, in exactly the same way I would approach a day of silent meditation or dedicated writing time. With peace. Equanimity.

Freedom. And that is what I chose.


Where in your life could you choose to treat a hassle with a little more kindness?  What triggers the reactive compulsion for you? Just notice. Make a list and choose one. Check it out. Where do you have a choice to do something different?


“Candle Light Balcony Session” by Sven, CC by 2.0

One Response to “When Liminal Time Meets Technology”

  1. Andrea Bruce

    I loved this post. I was particularly moved by the description of liminal time. The idea of the gradual light of the day being connected to the awareness of the group heart and your own, and the tender newness of the year. Certainly for me the holidays created much upheaval, and yet a stillness remained in me reminding me that chaos is not terminal. The evocative words here both inspire and comfort me. I will try to remind myself that that space between the night and the day is sacred and perennial. Each day brings with it an opportunity to live in it’s tender newness. Thank you.


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