Just had lunch with my pal Jen which is always entertaining, always enlightening and always thought provoking as we are both in varying stages of life-crisis...though of very different varieties. In any event, we discussed being "in limbo" and its inherent suckishness. Limbo, to me, brings to mind multicolored Caribbean dancers winding their way under impossibly low bamboo poles. Turns out, however, that limbo is a catholic concept referring to the "edge" of Hell and people who don't have what it takes to get into Heaven right away but also haven't yet been etched onto the naughty list and therefore still have the possibility of redemption and the trip North. Limbo refers to the waiting room where these poor souls end up, which, I now picture to be much like the DMV waiting room, with tickets and windows and numbers being called so incredibly slowly that you think it quite possible that you might just spend eternity there waiting.
Wikipedia kindly directed me to other related topics, one of which was "Spirit prison." Leave it to the Mormons to take the DMV experience to a whole new level. In their afterworld the DMV turns into a giant classroom where you have one more chance to repent and accept the ordinances of salvation (and by these I don't think they're referring to armaments though I am having a flash to the Holy hand grenade of Antioch...so maybe they are, but I digress) and get your ticket punched for the pearly gates. Should you, however, turn out to be ineducable, they just LEAVE you there, listening to the lecture over and over and over again until you either get it or the end of the Millennium arrives when you will be freed from that experience and achieve resurrection. Now, if being stuck in a DMV lecture hall isn't, actually, hell, then I shudder to think what fate could be worse. I suspect that most of their folks pass on the second try. Just a guess.
I love Wikipedia, because I now know that the Jews have added their own fascinating twist to this. Their limbo is called Gehenna, which is a waste yard of a valley where the wicked dead go for one last chance at spiritual purification. The Jews are much more reasonable in their approach to redemption as this purification process is limited to a 12 month period and you get the Sabbath off from punishment, so it's really just a 6-day a week stint. Once your twelve months are up you either ascend or end up in the molten lake of fire! Better than an eternal DMV hell I think.
According to our friends at Merriam and Webster, limbo is also a place or state of restraint or confinement, a place or state of neglect or oblivion, or state of uncertainty, from the Latin for "border."
I find myself in limbo enough to really wonder about it. I am in different phases of limbo when it comes to different issues in my life. There are things in my life about which I have felt uncertain for a few weeks, and there are some things that I have been uncertain about or neglecting for an embarrassingly long period of time (so long I will not assign a number to it here).
I wonder, do the people who end up in the eternal DMV of the afterlife do so because they never resolved their limbo in the fore-life? Maybe it is not really the bad and goodness, so much, of one's nature that determines the outcome, but rather the ability to commit and truly live their lives in a constant state of certainty?
Jen suggests that maybe it's all about the process, and that limbo is your opportunity to work things through, to gain perspective, to be in a place to make decisions.
Or maybe the whole thing IS limbo. Maybe all we get is right now, and our inability to recognize that fact is what creates a schism that we have labeled as limbo....where we wait, in vain, for something to happen, not recognizing that the happening is now and now and now and that, in waiting for resolution, we are missing the nows which results in great angst for us. Perhaps it really is as simple as donning a vibrant costume and dancing your way through life, instead of spending the day waiting for your name to appear at window number 9.