On Sunday's "On Being" radio program, I heard an interview with the poet Naomi Shihab Nye. At one point she spoke about living with spaciousness- giving yourself time to exist in this world.
I loved the image and the permission: to have the opportunity to create space in all that we do, to allow ourselves room to breathe- physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Spaciousness. To me it connotes wide expanses and openness. I think the idea of vastness is part of our psyche or at least the American psyche. We think of the wide open plains, the expanse of oceans or great lakes or the scale of our sky scrapers. I think it also connotes possibility like a large blank canvas.
I think the poet's words spoke to me because at this juncture in our lives, we are in the middle of redoing our basement. For anyone who has ever been in the middle of a home project you know all about disruption, feeling claustrophobic with clutter and chaos that these projects create. At present all the items in our basement are currently housed in our first and second floor rooms. I am certainly not feeling any spaciousness in our home lately.
So, I find it incredibly appealing to think of the idea of creating and living with spaciousness both in the external, our residence and in the internal of our lifestyle choices. I definitely see the advantage in the external. I cannot wait to get my household back in order, straightened and de-cluttered. To have room to move around, to set out new projects, and to not be burdened by confining spaces is my wish.
I am equally wishful for a lifestyle that gives me room to move around, to engage in new projects or ideas and to not be burdened by confining habits. As an example of living with spaciousness the poet suggested the simple practice of arriving to an appointment a couple minutes early. It will give you some time to settle before you move from one task to another. You have time to observe your surroundings, take a breath and create a buffer between events.
In some ways I liken it creating petite sabbaths- time when my norm is paused for a brief time and I can reflect. Generally I find my norm is hustling from one activity into another. When I give myself these petite pauses, I create time to be: time to take a deep breath, say a prayer, speak to a stranger, notice my surroundings.
Building in time for pausing will mean that something in my schedule will have to be eliminated. It makes me vulnerable and open to the possibility that I may not accomplish that which I want or at least in my time frame. It has taken me a long time to realize that true Sabbath keeping is not accomplishing seven days of work in six days. It is not rushing around for those six days so that when you rest on the seventh, you are "caught" up.
True Sabbath keeping is allowing time for God, for accomplishing things not in our normal routine and giving that time over to God for whatever He desires for us. It is knowing that while we might not have everything done in those six days, we give over that seventh day to Him regardless.
I think living with spaciousness is Sabbath keeping on a smaller scale. We are pausing in our lives, creating margin so that before we run into our house after work, we have time to listen to the neighbor talk about his kids, or plan to take a full lunch break in order to hear the co-worker's anxiety over her mother-in-law's health, or pause before running on the trail and sit and ponder the surrounding beauty of nature.
Just like I need space and order in my physical living space, I need margin in my emotional and spiritual life. I need to guard that I am not jam-packed, minute by minute in my schedule. I need to leave open space for the possibilities of whatever might occur. I need to offer back my schedule and its margins to God as gratitude for what the margins create in my life: an order, a spaciousness, an opportunity, a blessing of enjoyment of all aspects of life.
What about you? Do you live with spaciousness? In your physical world? Your emotional or spiritual world? Do you have margins in your life? Time that isn't taken with activities? Time to just be? What would that look like for you? Can you create petite Sabbaths in your day? Your week?