Tag Archives: space

The Sacred Space Between

6 Nov
Photo via Flickr user romanlily

Photo via Flickr user romanlily

When I practice the warrior two pose in yoga, my instructor invites us to fix our gaze somewhere in the space between our reaching middle finger and the wall. What we tend to see as dead space, I have come to see as a calming focal point. This intentional gaze has helped me see and feel the space between things, between people, between God and me. When I pray to start my session with youth, I ask God to be present and alive among us, and I picture God’s love in that space between. I can see it and feel it, God’s love and presence. God draws near but does not overwhelm us.

God makes space for us to be ourselves.

I love this idea from Rabbi Sacks about God being a parent who loves us enough to give us room to grow.

There has to be separation before there can be connection. We have to have the space to be ourselves if we are to be good children to our parents, and we have to allow our children the space to be themselves if we are to be good parents.

God loves us as a parent loves a child – but a parent who truly loves their child makes space for the child to develop his or her own identity. It is the space we create for one another that allows love to be like sunlight to a flower, not like a tree to the plants that grow beneath. The role of love, human and Divine, is, in the lovely phrase of Irish poet John O’Donohue, “to bless the space between us”.

God gives us space. Moses wanders in the wilderness. God tells Abraham to leave his father’s house. Jacob gets sent away. Humans seem to understand what God does: space is a key component to love and growth. My sister-in-law just returned to her kids after a week long silent retreat. Creating this space from the people we love can be scary and hard at times, but we need to follow God’s lead and recognize the space we all need to grow. We dream most vividly when we are in a strange place.

I have been a mom for almost a year. It is the most intense, intertwined love I have ever felt. Sometimes, in an amazing way, the intensity of the love feels heavy. I have only been away from my son for one day since he was born. We have been steadfast companions.

Recently, my spouse sent me a blog post on motherhood that had this line in it:

Though you may never have parenthood all figured out, there will be a day when you will find a way to wrap that love around yourself, instead of being buried in it.

It’s true. As we head toward a year, I feel myself emerging from being buried in this amazing, consuming love. The other parts of my identity are waking up again to mingle with the mom in me. In human relationships, there can be aching and longing involved in distance. I am grieving a little as with my baby starting to walk and needed less milk. As he becomes more of a person, his dependence on me changes. But the love doesn’t. It has been important for me to remember that the space between us is sacred, and important for us both. God gives us space and asks us to give that space to each other. In the sacred space between, there is room for us to love and to grow. It helps to see the space between as holy and remember that God is breathing there.

Extravagant Wastefulness

23 Oct

Sara Groves has a new album coming out soon. In preparation for that, she allowed a film crew to follow her around while she ran errands, and what came out spoke to me loud and clear.

She speaks about how pragmatism has infected every institution, including the church. We focus on usefulness, and as a singer and songwriter, she thinks it is the artist’s job to push back on that undercurrent. Artists, in order to create, need to take up an amount of space that seems extravagant and wasteful to the rest of the world.

I have found that to be true as a writer as well. My professor would say, “If writers don’t take time to be contemplative, who will? That is our role in society, to be brave enough to do nothing. To sit and think. To go on long walks in the rain and to not speak until we have something to say.” When I went to study writing, I worked hard and fast. I was considered productive and useful. As my teacher, she pushed me to slow down, to count doing nothing and sitting and thinking as the most necessary part of the process. Writing stopped seeming like production and started feeling like art. It started to feel decadent and wonderfully extravagant. If I rushed, I could produce something, but it didn’t glow. I had to embrace the subversive parts of the creative process. I had to be wasteful with my time.

Groves reminds us that the push to be useful is so strong that when we take a break to contemplate or create or do nothing, we feel guilty. We have to carve out time to take Sabbath, to take a long walk, to let God speak to our hearts. The children, the older folks, the artists, the homeless, they are good at taking up this space. They have let go of this drive to be useful and sit in the pocket of being. They are inviting us into this extravagant wastefulness where we are not useful, we are not productive, but there is space for God to speak. There is space for beauty to be created.

Being a working mom, I am struggling to carve out that time. I want to return to it, but how? Taking a whole day off does feels extravagant and wasteful. And essential. So I am beginning as I always do, with small steps. I am going to pick a day each week to stay away from my phone and computer. I am going to let my child invite me into a whole day of extravagant play. I know, deep down, God will meet me there in that space. The space the world may call wasteful, God calls sacred.

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