the ponderings of a mother

These are the ponderings of a mother in love with her children, both in my arms and in the grave. Some of these ponderings are quite emotional, some are funny, others contemplative and spiritual. All are sincere. May these writings bless you in many ways and bring you closer to the one, true God and Redeemer of all things.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Space: Cyber, Holy, or Otherwise

Utterly refreshing. Oh, how vacating regular life can offer such a great space for re-creation. This was our first time getting away since Elsa was born into our lives. We were tucked away in some rolling meadows of southern Indiana without cell service, internet, or cable…our kind of vacating! But before you get the idea that we were living primitively we did have a fully equipped cabin, a grill, hot tub, row boat, games, and the a couple of the best mentors we could have ever received into our lives.

We were at The Springs, a retreat center in Oldenburg, IN. If the abovementioned sounds like something you may ever need, personally, as a couple, or as a family, I highly recommend the 4 ½ hour journey from Chicago to this place of ministry. Spiritual direction is available, as well as two horses, a pond stocked with brim and bass, trails, and a walking Labyrinth (more on that in a coming post).  

As is often reported in places such as these, time slows…and eventually so does one’s inner world.  For some that may take hours, and for the higher strung amongst us…maybe a day or two. But the hard work of slowing it worth the stillness it brings. Creating space is something I have mentioned as a theme in other posts, and will likely visit again…this place is just that, a space created by others for you.

The difficult part is not necessarily the driving there or the unpacking or the preparing food for however many days you will stay…but the work of creating space.  This is work indeed. In our world space is a relatively costly commodity.  Purchasing land, whether developed or unadulterated, will cost you thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Capturing some cyberspace, will cost you as well, though not so dearly.  Filling the space in our homes takes creativity and cash to create the comfort you are looking for, whatever your style may be. Relational space can be cluttered with unspoken expectations, buried hurts, festering offenses.  There are people who can take up a lot of space in our soul (too much real estate, as I recently heard a friend say), maybe people past or present because of the relationship we had/have with them. We often refer to “clearing the air” when it comes to relational space…and depending on the pollutant level of said air this can cost us dearly in the form of trips to the therapist.  I am sure there are many other spaces I could come up with if I sat here for a while, but the most important space is the inner space…the space of the soul.

Though this may be a space less discussed in our world today, make no mistake that every marketer out there is well aware of the space in your soul…and they want some real estate. Billboards, commercials, magazines, internet ads…all things that take space in our soul without any consent from us. Without any consent. That is slightly frightening to me. Perhaps we don’t spend enough time considering the sheer amount of information that is constantly placed in front of us, and thus within us without our permission. They pay dearly for the dissemination of this information because they know they get real estate, whether we like it or not.

Now, not all marketing is evil, and not all for ill. Certainly some of the purchases I have made are because of marketing of one sort or another. But the important question is who gets all this real estate in my soul? Right now…this moment…  I am not asking who owns this space, I do. God-given and I have freedom to do with it what I will. What I am asking is who is building their empire on it? And how is that affecting my life is uncountable ways? These are good things to consider.

When it comes to the space of my soul I need to be the gatekeeper. But, you know, sometimes I am wearied and the gates just hangs open because I am too darn tired to either shut it or open it intentionally. Not just because I have a baby but because life can just get that way for any of us. Life just has its way of cluttering our souls. To seek a place where the clutter is removed is a great way to refresh this space. Creating space generally means getting rid of something. If you are going to create space in the kitchen to cook you have to move stuff off the countertops. Same for a workbench or the back seat of your car. But looking at that empty space can often cause a bit of a tremble inside. We become so used to it being filled it can be scary to create space without intention to fill it back up. But that is one call of the spiritual life…to create space. God can do the most amazing things within space. Remember Genesis?

We need not fear His creative power. He works good for us and in us. Maybe creating space means clearing room in the schedule. Maybe leaving the television off and allowing for awkward personal or relational space to shape into something new. Maybe it means creating that scary space for a relationship to heal. Maybe taking down some pictures and leaving some space in your imagination for something better. Or creating space in your home for guests.  For some, it means creating space in your stomach…filling it a bit less than usual, allowing the space to be filled with spiritual food.  It could mean sitting in front of a blank canvas again, or a blank page and filling the space creatively like you have not done in a while.  Maybe creating an empty space for yourself at a retreat center miles away from everything. The ways creating space only end with the creativity of God.

The quality of our lives depends on creating this space. As author Ann Voskamp posted a couple months ago on her blog “Who can expect to make sense of a loud world when they haven’t made quiet space for God?” And in directly considering internet use she writes “When one consistently chooses cyberspace over holy space – life becomes a hollow place.”  I can relate to both these statements.

The relieving thing is that we don’t have to worry about filling the space, or what will come once we create it. We simply obey by creating it. We are not the ones in charge of transforming that space in our souls. If we offer it in faith, we can fully trust God to do what He will. If you have never done something like this I highly recommend it. If you have and are thinking, oh, yes, I know God works like this…do it again. Try something new. Watch God’s creative power within you do more than you could ever imagine. And feel zero pressure to make it happen. Your work is to create space, however awkward or difficult or refreshing. Then let it be and see what comes.

This is exactly what this vacating regular life was for us as a family. We created some space away from lots of distractions.  And, as could be expected, the first day was full of relational discussions…how we were feeling about this or that. Hurts that we had not had time (…or space) to share. More emotion than would probably arise had we chosen to vacation with lots of noise and distractions. But we greeted it hospitably and worked through it. What may initially come out of space may not be beautiful, but if we are faithful to pay attention to it, offering it gently to God and be willing to lean into it, we can eventually expect the cleansing of that space. We must remember that what resides within the soul can be sheepish, and if we speak too brashly to each other’s space it will retreat until further notice (cluttering, yet again, our relational space and our soul space). So we created hospitality of soul in our space which led to some beautiful conversations and deep, fulfilling times of connection.  We played games, took walks, took pictures, made our baby giggle, prayed, read…all true re-creation…without all the expense and exhaustion of what some deem recreation.

I am so thankful for a place like The Springs, and I highly encourage you to check it out! Tomorrow I will be posting about my experience in the Labyrinth. 




1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience at The Springs, extending the invitation to come away and rest into 150 acres of His presence undisturbed by the noises of daily life. We look forward to your return and the joy of welcoming others who are encouraged to acknowledge their need and are willing to let God meet it. Blessings, Linda Holmes