Welcoming Space

Recently, I’ve had an unusual (as in not in the last 20 years) amount of space open up in my life. I don’t know what to do with it. Right now, I’m staring at it like a found object wondering, “what is this?” But I’ve noticed some other tendencies as well. I’d like to fill the space, and I’d like to fill it with what’s comfortable, what it’s been full of in the past. For me, that means hard things, challenges, difficult work, even catastrophe. I’m more at home with these items and their attendant suffering than I am with this new vacancy. I’m more at home with chaos than stillness.

What do you do with space when you find it? When you get a moment, a day, a new season of spaciousness what happens inside you? Do you welcome it, ignore it, fill it, fall gratefully into it, not notice it? How does the space feel? Frightening, like an exhale, threatening, vulnerable?

I’m pondering these questions as I keep an eye on this new territory. I’m noticing my discomfort, my bewilderment, and I’m also curious about what might show up in the space, if I leave it be for a bit. What will make its home there? What will pass through, pause, and then move on? How will this new context change me?

Clearly, I have no answers. I’ll have to wait and see. Perhaps, the waiting and watching are themselves a gift of space. I can take time, breathe, be with the openness, even become more comfortable with it, develop a relationship with this new companion.

We’ve used Wendell Berry’s poem “I Go Among Trees” in past Journey Center gatherings. It’s such a beautiful reminder to welcome space when it comes (even if only for a few minutes) – after all, in it we may “hear [our] song at last” and “sing it.”

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

Wendell Berry
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