If you’ve seen or talked to me in the last few months most likely mentally I am somewhere else. That somewhere else is in Limbo, not quite here, not quite there. I feel very lost and extremely anxious about what the future holds. My mind just goes around and around like a hamster on Redbull-Crack cocktail. So while I wait for things to happen, moderately frustrated, I figured I’d examine various states of being in transition.
Being the lapsed Catholic I am… (I feel guilty about being lapsed, and if anything catechism has taught me guilt = good Catholic) the first iteration of Limbo we’ll examine is the Catholic Church’s limbo.
From my understanding, Limbo to Catholics is where most of us will end up, if you believe in the Catholic afterlife. Limbo is not an official doctrine, but Purgatory most definitely is. Limbo, derived from the Latin limbus, means boundary of edge. In this case, it’s the edge of Hell. Limbo is where people who didn’t prove themselves ready for Heaven in life. Limbo is also for babies and infants and people who never got the chance to hear the word of God or be baptized, those that died of an early age or live a secluded life high in the mountains of the amazon or something.
Apparently in 2007 Pope Benedict the XVI authorized that the church weigh in on the issue by saying that basically Limbo still isn’t a thing, and as a whole, we hope that God is understanding of issues beyond our control as limited and fallible human beings. Thumbs up, Pope, I agree with that stance.
Moving onto to Purgatory which is most definitely a thing in Catholic Doctrine.
Purgatory, according to Catholic Church doctrine, is an intermediate state after physical death in which those destined for heaven “undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven”. Only those who die in the state of grace but have not in life reached a sufficient level of holiness can be in Purgatory, and therefore no one in Purgatory will remain forever in that state or go to hell. This theological notion has ancient roots and is well-attested in early Christian literature, but the poetic conception of Purgatory as a geographically existing place is largely the creation of medieval Christian piety and imagination. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purgatory
Basically, you live an average life committing sins, but not necessarily anything deemed hell-worthy. You die. You hang out in Purgatory and eventually you’ll earn enough merit to move on to heaven or be cast down into Hell. Which, I appreciate. At least God in all his infinite wisdom would not make you wait for an eternity to find out which eternity is meant for you.
Moving on to Tibetan Buddhism, Bardo, refers to the state of existence between two lives on Earth.
The intermediate being who makes the passage in this way from one existence to the next is formed, like every living being, of the five aggregates (skandha). His existence is demonstrated by the fact that it cannot have any discontinuity in time and space between the place and moment of death and those of rebirth, and therefore it must be that the two existences belonging to the same series are linked in time and space by an intermediate stage. The intermediate being is the Gandharva, the presence of which is as necessary at conception as the fecundity and union of the parents. Furthermore, the Antarāparinirvāyin is an Anāgamin who obtains parinirvāṇa during the intermediary existence. As for the heinous criminal guilty of one of the five crimes without interval (ānantarya), he passes in quite the same way by an intermediate existence at the end of which he is reborn necessarily in hell.
Transitioning more to an anthropologic stance than a religious view, liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals. Basically, yourself, your group or your society is in a state of flux. I don’t know why there’s a whole Wiki page on something that could be explained with one word, but hey that’s English for you.
More Latin for you… A tale beginning in medias res (Classical Latin: [ɪn mɛdiaːs reːs], lit. “in the middles of things”) opens in the midst of action. (cf. ab ovo, ab initio). Oftentimes exposition is bypassed and filled in gradually, either through dialogue, flashbacks or description of past events. For example, Hamlet begins after the death of Hamlet’s father. Characters make reference to King Hamlet’s death without the plot’s first establishment of said fact. Since the play focuses on Hamlet and the revenge itself more so than the motivation, Shakespeare utilizes in medias res to bypass superfluous exposition. P.S. As part of my neurotic personality, I hate it when shows and books start in the middle. I love nothing more than the order of a beginning, middle, and end.
We’re all on a journey in this life. Especially in this time where everyone’s lives are on display via Facebook and Instagram it’s easy to forget that no one likes to brag about their hard times, their personal struggles, their fears and insecurites. We all want to be successful, happy and loved; or at least look as though we are.
For me personally, all these things resonate- that nothing is forever, things always change, you can’t have the good without the bad… For the first time in my life I have no idea what is coming next. I don’t know where I’ll live, where I’ll work. I’m trying my damndest to have hope and faith that it will all work out- because up until this point I’ve tried to control everything and look where it’s gotten me. So, if you’re feeling out of sorts know you aren’t alone… Not only are people experiencing the same as you (I’m one of them), but the unknown and uncertain has been examined of the entire breadth of human existence.
Maybe this is just a challenge for me, a natural occurrence of trying to control my life too rigidly. I’ve got to let go of the things I thought would make me happy and embrace the things and people that the world wants to bring me, and be grateful that good things come my way. Maybe not in the time I want it or exactly how I want it. Maybe that’s my challenge on this Earth. Or maybe God is just screwing with me because it’s entertaining. Either way, I don’t have much choice in the matter, so wait I will.
And at the end of the day, none of us never really know what will happen. No matter how hard you plan, God, the universe, whatever you believe it, will eventually move you to where you are supposed to be. So whether you’re doing the limbo, in purgatory, Bardo, liminality, flux, change or any other kind of ambiguous situation just try to remain cool, and get a strategy. Obviously my strategy is to use memes and blog about my troubles.
One thing is for sure, if you’re going to do the limbo you need to be flexible and have a backbone.
A horizontal bar, known as the limbo bar, is placed atop two vertical bars. All contestants must attempt to go under the bar with their backs facing the floor. Whoever knocks the bar off or falls is eliminated from the contest. After everyone has completed their turns, the bar is lowered slightly and the contest continues. The contest ends when only one person can successfully “limbo” under the bar.