Liminal spaces: (n) areas which exist for what comes before or after them. From the Latin word for threshold. Examples: waiting rooms, school buildings during the summer break, stairwells, abandoned malls.
I’ve been thinking a lot about liminal spaces in nature. Those areas of wildness in between perfectly manicured lawns, strip malls, and parking lots. I’ve become preoccupied with the beauty of deer grazing in a grassy median and the wonder of what lays behind those sound barrier walls along the highway.
Working a 9-5 office job means I don’t have as much time to spend outside as I’d like. But thankfully, I do have a job where I’m expected to take a full hour for lunch. Since that’s not nearly enough time to get in my car and drive to the closest park for some real nature bathing, I’ve been exploring these liminal spaces around campus as often as I can. We’ve had a few days of unseasonable warmth recently that I couldn’t stand to waste.
Nature Bathing in Liminal Spaces
When you start to pay attention, you’ll realize that there are pockets of nature everywhere, just waiting to be explored. The first time I walked off the sidewalk on campus and into the woods, I became really paranoid. I don’t know exactly what I was afraid of: It felt like everyone was watching me, like I was somewhere I didn’t belong, like I was about to get in trouble for trespassing. But as I listened to the babbling of the small brook I’d stumbled upon and allowed the discomfort to settle, I was transported to a whole new world. I slipped into a walking meditation without even realizing it.
Many spiritualists believe there’s extra potent energy in these spaces that exist in the in-between. Allowing yourself to absorb this energy, they say, can jumpstart your creativity. I’m not sure if I’ve noticed anything to that effect, but it has been incredibly refreshing to take a few minutes out of my day to consciously reconnect with nature within the context of a developed environment.
Yesterday I slipped into a patch of forest behind the residence halls on campus. During my walk, I found an amazing deer skeleton that had only just begun the magical process of decomposition. I found raspberry bushes that I’ll remember to revisit once summer bears its fruit. I observed a pod of deer that sneezed at my presence. As I emerged from the woods into the quad, I felt completely out of place.
It was a beautiful feeling.