Navigating Transitions One Step at a Time
Change is inevitable, and transitioning through change often holds together two realities: grief for things that have been lost and hope for what lies ahead. How do we navigate these transitions when it feels as if we’re wandering through the wilderness?
Listen as Dan and Rachael talk with Jon DeWaal of Liminal Space about how we might approach walking through seasons of transition in our lives, one step at a time.
About this week’s guest, Jon DeWaal: Jon serves as the Founder and Life Transition Guide at Liminal Space, a practice dedicated to changing the way individuals and organizations embrace life’s most turbulent and formative transitions. Jon’s work focus is to create unique experiences that artfully build resilience, foster discovery and invite courage for the journey ahead. He lives in Edmonds, WA with his wife, Annie and three sons.
Dan: Racheal. We have the great pleasure of having a dear friend of the Allender Center. In fact, a gentleman that was with us in the early years, Jon DeWaal joining us, and Jon is the executive director, founder, head guru of the Liminal Space. And we’ll be talking about his work, his organization, but we’re gonna talk about transitions and what a bummer, what a glory, um, and how to hold those two realities together. No one wants significant change and yet change is not only inevitable, but can be profoundly profitable. So, Jon, thank you for joining us.
Jon: Yeah. So good to be here. It’s an honor and a privilege. And I think in this day and age, when there’s so much coming at every single person, every single day to take a moment from a person’s life and be able to be in their ear and share and talk about something like this, it’s such a gift it’s such a privilege. And so for those listening, I would just say, thank you for the opportunity to speak into this space with where you’re at today.
Dan: So Rachel, not that you and I or the organization were part of been involved in any significant transitions or freaking crazy two or three years. Nonetheless, what things do you wanna bother this young man to be thinking about?
Jon: Oh, I appreciate you call a young man. That’s good. Thank you. I don’t feel that.
Rachael: Oh man, you know, it’s so funny. I was thinking about this conversation almost like I asked myself, well, what do you know about transitions? And then I just died laughing. Um, I’m just thinking about even the most recent season of my life, because obviously you, you know, many of our listeners know I got married in the Fall of 2019 left my home of 14 years, Seattle, half of my plant babies, um, to move to Philadelphia, to be with my new husband at the time and my two stepsons. Um, and then four months after moving, which alone, it was like I woke up in and was like, oh my God, I live in Philly. Oh my God, I have a husband. Oh my God, I’m a stepmom. And then, you know, the pandemic hit, which was a whole different kind of transition. But in some ways I was in such profound. I mean, I kept my job with the Allender Center, but I was navigating new realities of how to do that job remotely, which at the time I was one of the first people who was gonna be working remotely with the Seattle school as a whole. Yeah. Which obviously quickly changed in four months time. But I, I think it’s just…
Jon: you were a trailblazer.
Rachael: I was, I was in so much transition. So I’ve been thinking about just seasons of life where, you know, change is coming and you kind of have the grace to those of us who maybe choose that to kind of step into it as well as we can. And then the seasons that are kind of thrust upon you and what happens when those converge. So for me, I would just love to hear more about your work with people, your own, your own work with yourself, um, navigating transitions and kind of what you said, Dan, like what are the hard realities of that and what, what are some of the potential gifts if we have the right mindset or the right frame of mind to see what’s in front of us?
Jon: Yeah. So good. Well, there’s a lot to say and I’ll start winding up and if you wanna pause me, uh, do so um, I was just saying, uh, uh, before we hit record that the last two, three years of this experience of the pandemic has really invited me, and I use that word invite with intention, um, to really practice a lot of what I preach, um, to take some of my own medicine, um, to look at the things that are being disrupted and disoriented with a desire not to use the phrase that I think is a really easy go-to phrase for myself. Uh, I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m, I’m fine. Uh, um, to be honest about not being fine and to get to that point of honest vulnerability, especially with those closest to me about the things that are being churned up and the things that aren’t working and the things that I need help with. Uh, there was one moment in particular, a few months back where, uh, part of the pandemic that for those that know me, um, has been part of our story is, uh, we went through a huge disruption right before the pandemic with letting go of a really significant office space that we had spent a lot of time and energy and resources on just some ideas that we needed to pivot away from and start over. Um, that was disorienting in the midst of all of that. We’re also in a remodel for our home. Um, something that was a huge undertaking for us. We, we didn’t have stacks of cash to hire someone. We had to do it ourselves. So that’s going on, in the midst of, you know, 2019 and then the pandemic hits. So every aspect of our life at that point felt like it was topsy turvy. And, um, yet we keep, we kept plotting along doing the work of getting the kids fed and out the door, keeping our businesses running, trying to figure out online, homeschooling, you know, all the things that everybody else is doing. Our story didn’t necessarily feel all that unique, but it felt very overwhelming and exhausting day after day, grinding away doing the work of life. And I reached this point one morning with my wife on a Saturday morning before the, before the work began of whatever it was I was working on on the house that day. And I just, I blurted out to her. It felt like I was letting a secret out where I just said, I can’t keep doing this anymore. I can’t keep doing this anymore. Uh, I need at least one day a week where I’m not working. And it almost felt shameful to acknowledge that that reaching my limit of this is too much. And yet, as we began talking about that, it became such a gift to me and our whole family to down that path of conversing about how do we really, um, move towards a story that’s about wholeheartedness and not just getting shit done, which I’m really exceptionally good at getting stuff done, but that ultimately is not the story that I want to be blanketed over my life. I move through a, a story that’s about wholeheartedness. Uh, and I read this amazing quote from David White around that time. And it stuck with me, the antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness and that just hit me like a ton of bricks, just, yes, I need, I need to hear that again and again and again, rest, very important, but there’s something in that word. Uh wholeheartedness that really met me in a special way, these last six months, uh, and has shifted some of my own thinking and approach to a day to transition this space that we’re all in
Dan: Well John, you, as a guide, as a coach, as a therapeutic presence for people who are in the middle of vast, uh, complex transitions from job to retirement, to disease illness, marriage, uh, I mean, in some sense, transitions are, are the realm of death and rebirth, the realm of loss and grief, but also the realm of uncertainty therefore a heightened intensity of fear. So you’re living, uh, in some of the most dramatic spaces, which I love the name of your organization, Liminal Space in the, in between, in the thin spaces between what feels solid on one hand and perhaps worth risking on the other, and yet in that middle ground. So you live in the middle ground with people, but you’re obviously naming that you had to live in your own liminal middle ground. As a really wise man, and I know you to be a very wise, man, what, what did you discover a fresh or a new or new in that middle ground?
Jon: I think the, probably the most profound own discovery for me as a Dutch person from the Midwest is that I have a body and that body feels all kinds of things related to, uh, that the uncertainty that I’m holding, uh, that’s not something that lives outside of me, it’s inside of me. Uh, and so to, for me, the invitation of, especially these last two years and more recently in the last six months is to be in relationship with that body. Uh, one of the, the more significant, uh, moments of, of feeling came for me when I was sitting with my wife and we were talking over a cup of coffee one morning, this is shortly after I blurted out that secret. And I was sharing with her how hard it is to connect thoughts with feelings and that that’s not a new insight. That’s not a new pattern that I’ve come to understand, but recognizing that there’s a, there’s a disconnect there that I want to link up. And I started to just be curious with her and ask her how she does that. Rather naturally, as I’ve come to know her story. And it began taking us into aspects of my story and aspects of our experience these last few years, which led us to talk about grief and loss. The grief of losing a home that we love the stability of that, the grief of losing a baby. Um, we had a miscarriage that happened about a year ago, um, that weighed heavily and all of that started to show up in this conversation that we were having over a cup of coffee. And this is so different than just conveying the stuff of the day. This happened. And that happened. And, you know, I talked with this person and that person. This was aligning thoughts with feelings and a body that’s holding those feelings and thoughts and being able to connect to a deeper truth, a deeper wisdom that’s there, that’s available to me. Uh, and so for me, that that’s an important aspect of growth that I see happening in my clients all the time, where I see the wisdom forming in them as they connect to especially loss and grief and how quickly that, that, that leads them to say things that are just profoundly true about who they are and what they want for their life. And how soon after connecting to those thoughts of grief and loss, we begin wandering into, into spaces of desire and imagination for the future. Uh, often in the same conversation, which I started to notice in my story too, as Annie and I were talking that morning, over coffee, we started to see some possibilities where it felt like the blinders were, were, were lifted, and we could see a way forward ideas, things to try, um, and to do so with again, that idea or that word, wholeheartedness leading the way as the foundation,
Dan: I’m vastly curious what you’ve discovered about wholeheartedness, uh, in part, because, um, and see if this seems true and if it’s not, I’m glad to have my hands slapped. You are a very, as I said, wise, profound therapeutic presence, and you’ve helped people do the very thing you’re now describing on your own behalf. In other words, in taking your own medicine, you’re, you’re having to face the fact are better at helping people make these transitions than you are engaging your own. I find that to be vastly true. I’m really pretty helpful for others. I’m a mess. and, and sometimes when my, when, when some of the people I’m privileged to work with seem to get things it’s like, oh, that’s true. It could be true for you too, buddy. So, uh, with wholeheartedness, uh, what, what are you discovering about why it’s often not there for you?
Jon: Because I think I’m mostly trying to, for a good portion of my life, and I’m more naturally prone to this is to be, uh, like, like a mind moving through the world, disconnected from a body, uh, tackling the problems that are in front of me, uh, as though they’re just a series of tasks to, to address, which is easy to do in this season of uncertainty every single day. Even this morning, as I was driving my kids to school, you know, I’m learning, Hey dad, uh, my teacher has a birthday and, uh, we need to figure out a way to get him a gift today, uh, or, uh, get in an email last night, the buses may not be running on time today for the kids and parents be aware that this could throw a wrench into your day. Again, just the normal stuff, but that’s the stuff that’s happening day after day after day, resulting in problem after problem thing in front of me, that needs to be considered that has real implications for how that day is gonna go. So it’s easy to get sucked into, you know, one thing after another solving problem after problem. And, and that can be the, the currency of every single day where you’re just accomplishing tasks. So for me, that’s easy to do. That’s the, it gives me some sense of control. I can control my world by managing what feels like the most urgent, you know, lion out to get me, uh, creating a lot of stress inside my body. Uh, and the, the growth edge for me is to recognize that it’s not so much that I’ve accomplished that task and therefore I’m safe. And I can rest. It’s that I need to remember that this body is going through the accomplishment of all of these tasks during this time of uncertainty. And I need to coax my body into a relationship of safety, a relationship with those around me that are experiencing that safety. And so for me, wholeheartedness has everything to do with that. Uh, if I come to a place of, harmony between my doing self and my being self, I’m gonna be in a much better place to meet the next day’s activities. So, which will no doubt bring a lot more, uh, unknowns and uncertainties. That’s, what’s so hard about this season. I think for all of us is that it’s so constant and, and most of the tools that we’ve all used and deployed, it’s like a screwdriver that that’s worn the nubs that you actually put into the screw to it. It’s, it’s rubs smooth and, we need a whole new set of tools or a different way of approaching this, uh, with, with more intention. Uh, and that’s, that’s what I teach and, and invite my clients to all the time. It’s, it’s the, the problem isn’t that we’re going through a lot of change. The problem is, is that most of us don’t have disciplines or ways of engaging the person we’re becoming that invite us to be here wholeheartedly here. Uh, and you know, that, that, that I think is, if you’ve never been taught that that takes time, that takes a journey to figure out what that means for you. And I feel like for me personally, that’s been an eye opener, a lot of learning, uh, a lot of invitation these last few months, especially
Rachael: Ooh. And I’m like listening to just thinking, oh, and it takes so much courage because it’s, I think so many of us, we actually have a lot of tools that keep us from being wholeheartedly here so that we don’t have to feel, or, I mean, that’s what you’re saying. We don’t have to feel and engage the terror of the unknown or, um, the disruption and disorientation when we’re changing. And that might mean changes for our world. Um, or just when you, like, you know, I think just what I was naming earlier, I didn’t get into the Allender Center and all the transition we’ve been in as well. Right. Pandemic transition, leadership transition, all kinds of transition. Um, yep. And it’s like, what do you do when, who, it’s almost overwhelming? Um, how do you, what are some of the steps you take? Um, when it feels like, oh, I would love to be wholehearted right now. I don’t know how to do that without becoming a crazy person. At least I’ll speak for myself. I might be on the other end of the spectrum of like, there’s a lot of words for the feelings. And some people are like, I’m gonna need you to go regulate that before you bring them, because yeah. I’m not sure how to help you. So that might be yep. I might be on that other, other ledge.
Jon: yeah. I, uh, you know, to, to approach, uh, a season of transition or liminal space with some level of, I don’t wanna just get through this. I wanna open my eyes to something that could be about the person I’m growing into or where God’s inviting me to be transformed begins with this awareness of what’s your relationship with uncertainty. If your relationship with uncertainty is primarily that this is doing something to, uh, you know, the forces, the enemy it’s coming at me, I’m unsafe, and I need to get out of this as quickly as possible. Then you’re gonna miss the treasures that are littered all over the wilderness, all over the in between times. So I, I often begin the conversation with folks of what is your relationship with uncertainty, the stuff coursing through your body? What is your relationship with uncertainty? Is it for you or against you? I bring my bias from the beginning and say, I believe this has something for you. And I don’t, I don’t just know that because I write it in books. I’ve seen hundreds of clients move through this space or waiting with intention, which is not an, a passive word, waiting with intention for what this season of uncertainty is inviting them to become more of. Uh, and so foundationally starting from that standpoint, um, and this, this space of uncertainty, especially right now for all of us, for, I would say for most of us, this isn’t about this is about identity. Uh, the wilderness time is shaping a new identity or an identity upgrade. I heard one teacher speak, it’s an upgrade. I’m going through an upgrade. And I kind of liked that. It’s as if the container or the software or whatever metaphor you wanna run with. It’s just, it needs to be upgraded. The container’s not big enough. Um, I got a shirt for Christmas, it was washed and it shouldn’t been washed on the hot cycle and it fits too tightly now and it’s like, ah, I, I need a bigger shirt. I need something that fits better. It’s so uncomfortable. So to begin with that awareness of this season is really more, more like a life quake. It’s not just a problem where you need to find a new job. Uh, the, the individuals that are right now choosing to walk away from their job, many of them are recognizing there’s something in this story. That’s so much bigger than just a paycheck. I want something more befitting to my worth and value as a human being, to the desires within me. Um, that that is a good path to stay on. And in this conversation of life quake, uh, the story I, I use that word life quake. It comes from a book by the name of, uh, Life is in the Transitions. Bruce Faler is the author. Phenomenal text, uh, for those that are in a transition or in, in liminal space. And one of the, uh, statistics or data points from his research that he, that he shows is that a typical life quake takes three to five years to get through three to five years.
Jon: We’re at. Yeah. We’re at year two of a pandemic, right? Uh, even if this thing wraps up as far as, you know, Omicron and, you know, the, the, everything subsides, uh, by the Spring, the, the, the amount of time it’s gonna take, take to continue to metabolize what all of this has meant and continues to mean is gonna take years more. We’ll probably spend the rest of our lives, looking back at this life quake, trying to understand how it’s shape informed us. So, um, a big, uh, point of recommendation or, uh, nudging that I would want everyone to hear is how are you going to create conditions to keep your eyes open and your heart open. Your eyes open and your heart open?
Dan: Hmm. Well, it, it, when Becky and I, when, and through the initial empty nest, uh, I thought it’d be a year. I thought it was being very expansive. Yeah. To think in terms of it’ll be a year transition. And dear, dear friends of ours that we had, uh, a meal with in the middle of this, said, oh, no. Yeah. Uh, we thought that as well. And they offered the council that you just put words to, it’s a five year process. And the first response was similar to what I just said, damn, this is awful. But I think in some ways, what it opened was a far more generous timeframe for changes to actually occur, right. So when you have the mood of get it over, then the damn makes sense. But if what you’re actually saying is this is going to form, deconstruct and form and reform, something of who we are as people, but also as a couple, it was actually much more restful to think that there’s going to be this expanse, that in some sense, the luxury of time. So it is a huge category to be able to say, wholeheartedness, and I heard that phrase, but you spoke of it primarily with regard to your body. So, in some sense, it’s whole bodiedness. Wholehearted bodiedness. And what, what about your own story? Uh, Dutch Midwestern. Those are two significant categories. How, how has your own story, shall we say, evolved in and through the process to bring you to where you are?
Jon: Yeah. Well, back to that idea of, uh, of the work that’s in front of me, uh, I can’t, I, I mean, so many stories I could tell you over the course of these last two years of just grinding away, getting the work done, uh, both in my business, uh, taking care of the kids, this house that we’ve been working on. And so the, the work of recognizing there’s value in it, it’s one of my super powers I can, I can get stuff done. Uh, and, and yet there’s this awareness of, if I, if I continue to overuse that strength, uh, my, my heart begins to atrophy. I begin to move through my life more mechanically, uh, which on some level, uh, being taught over the course of subtle or not so subtle messages that emotions the body, what you’re experiencing in your body. Isn’t an ally, something to trust and use as you move through your life to be in relationship with, but something almost to disconnect from, because it gets in the way of getting the job done, uh, to keep plowing. Uh, and so for us, uh, me, especially in our family, uh, the act of choosing to set things down, uh, and that certainly involves rest. But for us, we’ve, we’ve come back to this word Sabbath and a whole day that we set aside to literally not do work. And the activities that we use to guide that day are simply guided by the metrics of, does it bring pleasure? Is it restful? Are we connected and fun as we go? And so, I mean, very basic categories that we’re thinking about as we engage a day to just simply be connected and enjoy all kinds of activities and let our bodies be present. And for me, that’s profound. Like it, it invites me to give myself permission to put all those to-do lists off to the side, to close the computer, to invite my body, to experience safety, to let that foundation begin to grow more and more and begin to not just go functionally through activities with my kids, but actually be with my kids. Uh, and that for me is like a, a huge, a huge, I would say, marker of repentance and the best of the word best sense of the word, uh, in my story is just to learn what it means to be with versus I’m checking the box of being a good dad or being a good husband who does the dishes, uh, I’m here with my family. Uh, and of course the activities are, are wide range that we’re doing here in our house. My kids just got, um, for Christmas, these Nerf rival guns, which they shoot, they shoot eight little pellets about the size of a mini golf ball per second, 8 percent second. Our basement is unfinished it’s it’s yes, literally. Uh, it is a delight and joy to, to engage with them, uh, in a nerf war in our basement. Uh, so, so fun. Uh, but those, those activities of play, um, connection that’s growth for me, uh, and to not approach it like a task to accomplish.
Dan: Well, we’re, we’re in a strange day in that 20 million people have left their jobs. Uh, it’s often referred to as the great quit, the great resignation, uh, our audience, uh, uh, unfortunately doesn’t expand to all 20 million, but what, what, what do you want to say to those who are either in that process or near that process?
Jon: Yeah, well, part of what I would want people to hear from what I’ve already shared is that there needs to be conditions created for you to listen to your life. Um, I know you’ll probably have all kinds of, to solve in terms of, I need to make a paycheck. Uh, I need to get my resume dusted off. I need to find places to apply all of that’s very true, um, tied to real life, um, things that are going on every day, but I would play the long game. Um, I would look at the word job and career path as two separate things. If you need to tie a tourniquet on to slow the bleed and finding income something different from what you’re doing now, go do that. But the conversation of what do you want to become or be when you grow up that I think we’re all still asking on some level, uh, is a conversation that requires space, um, generous space to listen to your life. Um, certainly some conversation partners should be brought into this space to do that, but first start by listening to your own life and some better questions that can help guide that to discover more of what you’re wanting, not just good at, what you’re wanting for your life, this one precious life, life that you’ve been given. And so back to that word discipline, um, one of the simplest tools that I found so helpful in this last year, um, I’ve been using it myself too. And a lot of my clients are using it’s called the Monk Manual, M O N K. monkmanual.com. If you wanna check that out, it’s an exceptional tool to just simply help you pay attention to the being side of your life in connection to the doing side of your life. I’m working with a client right now that has a great successful business. He’s a, a jeweler, he makes great money, but he drives his life phonetically and he cannot tell you where he would like his life to be three to five years from now. Uh, and the discipline of slowing down for 10/15 minutes every day to pay attention to his life with some level of intention with this tool that I just mentioned, the Monk Manual is where we’re starting. Where is his focus on the things that feel the most important given what he knows of his life today. Today. Learning, training your mind and your heart to be in sync with one another. Um, that’s not gonna happen by accident. We need to develop habits, um, practices, uh, disciplines that help encourage that along, uh, so that we can actually hear our voice. So that’s one of the first places I start with folks is what are those disciplines, those passionate practices of being that help you align more and more with what you want to do with your life. Uh, and for many of us, we don’t have those.
Dan: Well, certainly one of the fears I have with, uh, regarding a few friends who are in this transition, they, they want it over with, and I understand that, yeah, we’ve underscored that I do too. And yet the, the dilemma with that is that in the desire to have it over, you’re gonna settle more often than not for what is both convenient, but as you underscored, what gives you some sense of control. So when you combine convenience and control, you’re, generally speaking, opting out of the potential staying in the uncertainty, letting the process evolve. Uh, it requires, I, I think a keyword again, the discipline to remain there. But people, uh, people are not fond, I’m not fond of uncertainty. So you, you almost have to go through that minefield of what brought them to whatever structure they use to escape something of that. And, and do you find it least with the people you are working with, that there is both openness to that and a desire for that?
Jon: If they’re in enough pain. Um, you know, it’s one of those it’s such a, a, a great, uh, teacher, right? Uh, pain suffering, and getting to a point where they’ve experienced enough of it to, to want not, um, accept a substitute, uh, but something that’s really real. Uh, and you can tell the difference between substitute and real, uh, as a person talks about it and engages it of their life.
Rachael: Yeah, I will. I’m I just I’ve been thinking about this, cuz we started talking about you, you started by mentioning grief, um, as a really a necessary part of transition. And I think it would be helpful. I just wanna reiterate for our listeners that a lot of the people you’re working with, when you say transitions, they might be coming out of a season of losing someone they love. Losing a marriage. Significant just maybe identity transitions of life that are more normative that everyone has. So when you say people are in pain, I was just thinking about how, when we are in seasons of transition that are so deeply connected to suffering, and they often are, sometimes we feel like we have to go it alone. And I think it’s really profound because, you know, obviously we talk about therapy, we talk about spiritual direction. We talk about pastoral care. And in many ways you are offering a service, a journeying with a wifeing of a process with people that I just think it’s so good for people to have in their imagination is possible. So just thinking about your journey with people in significant seasons of transition, where pain and suffering are a part of that transition and what you notice about. Yeah. I think sometimes where we need guidance and we need help, um, where, you know, maybe we don’t quite know how to get there on our own and, and maybe we’re not actually meant to go it alone.
Jon: Yeah. I wholeheartedly agree, uh, the, the best metaphor that I’ve used to describe, what I do with others, uh, is that of a Sherpa. Uh, it is their mountain to climb, uh, and it’ll be hard for most of them, even if it’s a desired mountain to climb, uh, it’ll be hard and I’m there to walk alongside them to help ask certain questions and point point out things that they’re saying and noticing how they’re walking and, uh, which is paying attention to their body and, and just inviting more and more conversation that unearths the stuff that transitions are, are intending to on earth. Uh, and no doubt that leads to spaces of loss, heartache, grief. Um, I mean, Racheal, you’ve mentioned some from your own story briefly that all the changes that you just noted, every single one of those has layer upon layer of loss and grief. And I think for our culture at large, we’re just not very good at it. We, we moved through that so, so quickly, um, I was in conversation not too long, long ago with someone who actually had a miscarriage and they actually said, yeah, yeah. I, cried about it for about a day and then moved on. Um, and I, I just, it hit me like, like a two by four, you, uh, one day, one day that you dedicated to the grief of losing your baby, um, how much, how much is lost in not allowing more space for the heart to let itself be known and grief. Um, that’s the loss of a life. Um, but the same thing is applied to a loss of a career that you’ve been doing for a decade or more or whatever it is that you’re losing. And so a lot of the work, especially on the front end of a journey, it just begins with paying attention to what’s no longer there or what we’re struggling to let go of having a grip on the story that we thought we were gonna have, that we do not have that happens in small micro ways. Like I thought I was gonna have a day where I didn’t have to scurry around and run an errand, but I have to now because da, da, da, da, uh, and, or I thought that we were gonna go serve these people or this client, or we’d have this project. And now I’m looking at having to let people go. And I can’t imagine having to do that. I can’t imagine letting this like dismembering the team that I’ve built so hard to create. You know, this is happening all over, all over, still two years into this, and it’s not gonna to stop because everything’s changing so quickly. So we’re, again, you know, when I say change, we’re talking about loss, we’re talking about grief, we’re talking about letting go. And it’s a part that it’s a part of transition that we cannot ignore.
Dan: And John, how does grief set the context for creativity?
Jon: Oh man, that’s a great question. Oh man. Um, how do you answer that question in a short period of time?
Dan: Hey, I’m looking for answer, buddy. I’m in my own world. I’m in my own transitions. Uh, so you damn well better answer me.
Jon: Well, let me just speak to personal experiences that for me, when I’ve, and I’ve seen clients do this plenty of times, but I think for me to allow that space of not just talking about change and loss and letting go, but allowing my body and my heart to feel to actually literally grieve, but in the grieving, also the sharing with those that are safe to do that with, you know, and specifically thinking about a few friends right now, and of course my wife and that space is so crucial and I’m often amazed by how soon after the sharing, uh, and how soon, uh, in connection to the, the engaging of what’s in the midst of the uncertainty that I’m struggling to to see, let go of that. How soon after I begin to literally feel something shift in my body, uh, where I literally begin to feel lighter, um, I’m letting go often of a bag of boulders that I’ve been carrying around for a long time. And I can like literally sit up a little straighter, breathe a little more deeply. Now that doesn’t mean that right after that, I see a clear path that takes me the next five miles. But like a light my feet, like a light unto my path. I can see the next few steps forward. Right? And is that not the discipline of a transition in the wilderness? God didn’t give us food. You know, it didn’t give the people manna for the next 18 months that you know, all in it was every day, just enough. So this whole journey from grief to desire or from Egypt to the promise land, it’s this daily journey towards desire, faithfully picking up manna, which for those of you like, who don’t know this, like, man, it’s such a fun word. It’s a question. The word manna translates. What, what is it? And if you can, if you can engage that with a sense of like, there’s such humor in that to me like, like God, how to have laughed when he noted that the, when the people named their food, a question like every day, they’re picking up the questions I’ve placed in front of them and they are eating their questions. So if you ask those questions, what, what is it with a heart that’s open with a heart that wants to see truth with a heart that wants to be in relationship. There will be a path that gradually unfolds towards desire. Step by step by step. You may still be in that wilderness and unknown and uncertainty for a longer season than you would prefer. It may still stretch out for months, years, but you can, you can take note of where your heart is at from day to the next, is it open or closed? How are you eating that manna?
Dan: Love that. Yeah, well, it, it, it essentially, you’re not gonna be able to dance well, if you’re carrying a bag of bones, uh, and if you can put it down, you may not dance well, but you’re gonna dance a whole lot better, uh, than you might have before. So very
Jon: Very true fora a Dutch white guy.
Dan: yeah, well, yeah. Or, well, yeah, for any of us, yeah. How, how might people dance with you? Uh, I, I love your podcast. I love the work that you do. How can people find you?
Jon: Well, they can certainly find me and a few others, uh, that are liminal guides on our team at our website inaliminal space, inaliminalspace.org. Um, that’s one of the great places you can find us. Um, we also, uh, so we do a lot of one-on-one work, uh, guiding individuals through transitions of all kinds. Um, and that’s, you know, that’s not just career stuff. That’s stage of life, retirement, empty nesting, any form of grief and loss that you gone through. Um, we have seen it all, uh, and we’ve walked with people through some doozies, uh, so that that’s, uh, the one-on-one work. Um, one of the things that I’m super excited about is the liminal guide certificate program, where we’re teaching others how to do this work of guiding, as liminal guides and you. I use that, that Sherpa metaphor, but really it’s a combination of, of, uh, being a counselor, a coach, a spiritual director, all rolled into one. Uh, and along the way, I don’t, I don’t claim to be a big T therapist by any stretch of the imagination. We have others that we bring in that we’re in relationship with, uh, um, when we need that help with our clients, when our clients need that specialized help. But it’s just learning how to be, uh, someone who can ask really good questions and be a pastoral, caring presence with some ideas that are about how to move practically forward, um, towards whatever it is the promise line is that they’re moving toward. Um, so teaching others how to do that has been a lot of fun lately. Um, and seeing our team grow, uh, is a lot of fun too. That’s really stretching me as a leader in great ways. So those are two great, great, great ways to get in touch with us.
Dan: Those are fantastic. And again, not to critique you at the very end, uh, but, uh, the, uh, uh, I’ve noticed least on some of your podcasts, uh, you say it too quickly. It’s in, a, liminal space. Yeah. Yeah. So, I N A , yes, people can find some significant wisdom and help, uh, through your labor and we are so great for your life grateful for every part of your participation with us.
Jon: Yeah. Thank you. I am very grateful for this time with both of you.
Rachael: Very good to be with you.
Jon: Thank you.