Growing up Catholic, “Limbo” was a word used to describe the place where non-Catholics and unbaptized babies went after they died. Since they were neither baptized nor Catholic, they could not be allowed into heaven since the Catholic Church was taught to be the only path to salvation. To put this bluntly…..I always thought this teaching was a load of crap! Thank God for the wisdom of the Vatican II fathers who found some loopholes in this ancient teaching and found a way for the possibility of all to return to God in their death. Unfortunately, the remnant teachings about Limbo (and Purgatory) still remains in the minds of many Catholics and their non-Catholic brothers and sisters who have suffered insult due to this old teaching.
While I do not embrace either the current or former teachings about Limbo or Purgatory, I have come to recognize a stage in our spiritual development that feels very much like what I would imagine Limbo to feel like. I call this stage: Spiritual Limbo.
Spiritual Limbo is the time in between. This time emerges after a period of intense learning and reception of spiritual knowledge. When we are learning and receiving knowledge, it is often a time of great excitement and discovery. We feel like young children who are exploring, discovering and learning new things about the world and about themselves. It is a time filled with motivated energy and fulfillment. Once we have received this knowledge, we need time to integrate it. This period of integration, in contrast to the excitement of discovery, often feel boring, unfulfilling and dull. It is a period in which it feels like nothing is happening. We remember the lessons learned and the insights received and we anxiously await their manifestation. Unfortunately, it does not always come in the time that we want or expect. So, we grow impatient, begin to doubt and maybe start to lose faith. We may even question the learning we thought we had received and wonder if we just made the whole thing up. This is Spiritual Limbo.
There is only one thing we can do during periods of Spiritual Limbo – WAIT. It does no good to force or push this process as it has its own time – and the time is not of our making but of the Divine. So, the invitation when Limbo presents itself is to surrender to its timing, trust that what is unfolding and integrating in those silent places within and wait. The good news is that unlike the Limbo created by the Catholic Church, Spiritual Limbo does not last forever. As in all things…….this too shall pass.
Authentic Freedom Ministries