Monday, August 29, 2011

The Space In Between

It's 1:00 am and here I sit, laptop in hand, a victim of my own fall off the Diet Coke wagon.  Caffeine is surging through my veins, and yes, it feels GOOD! Hahaha!  Actually, I have been very good and only had DC a couple of times during the past month and a half or so.  Tonight I had a lot to accomplish though, so it was a purposeful fall.  Tomorrow I will step back up on the wagon, for a flurry of activity awaits.

Perhaps though it is not just the caffeine high that has me still upright rather than curled up in bed.  There is much rolling around inside my head, and it is these late night spiritual explorations that often garner the most fruit.  I have been ruminating over the incredible sermon our pastor delivered this morning.  Isn't that an interesting way to say it..."delivered"?  But I am certain that for a gifted writer and orator, that is exactly what it must feel like, giving birth to something that had been growing inside for a time and was arduously brought forth to be presented to the world.  The good ones make it look easy.  It never is.

The Space In Between.  That was not the sermon title, but that is what has my mind doing an endless loop as I contemplate what that really means.  What we do with the Space In Between reveals who we are more clearly than anything else we might ever say or do in those times outside the "Between".  Are you totally lost?  Let me explain...

Someone harms you in some way, insults you, attacks you, or just unintentionally ignores or causes you emotional pain.  Maybe it is much worse, maybe someone physically assaults you or someone you love, or destroys something of value to you.

How do you react?  What do you do?  Is retribution the first thing that enters your mind?  Is "payback" the path you walk?  After all, an eye for an eye, right?  Why not?

Oh, if only it was that simple.

The Space In Between., that split second that falls between thought and response, that is the time,  no matter how infinitesimal, when we have the opportunity to redirect ourselves. The Space In Between is when we have the opportunity to live up to that which we aspire to be, or we can give in to our lesser selves and respond in a way which might bring temporary gratification, but later upon honest reflection might bring permanent mortification.

Sometimes the Space In Between is not imperceptible, sometimes there is a considerable amount of time between an event which directs us to a particular thought, and the reaction to that thought.  Take, for example, America's response to the tragedy of 9/11.  We had time to measure our response, and for years to come there are many of us that will question the wisdom of our response as a nation.  One wonders what has really been accomplished with the plan our leaders came up with as they reflected during their Space In Between.

Whether almost immediate, or months long, the Space In Between is when we consciously make a decision to practice what we preach, or to give in to the world's day to day lack of grace.  It is when we become who we want to be, or we continue to be who we wish we weren't.

The Space in Between is when we show others what we know in our heart to be true, but often can't model due to our very is when we have the opening to prove that Love Wins.

The biggest Space In Between is the one between birth and death, and it is so long that we are afforded many "do-overs" when we fail to get it right.  Every morning when we awaken, we can take in a long, deep breath and thank our God that we have yet another chance to get it right, to make the Space In Between have meaning and purpose, and to make our response to our culture be something that reflects a different way of being in this world.

I am reading a book right now by Richard Rohr for our book club at church, "Falling Upward, A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life".  This book is not a difficult read, but it is proving so for me because on every page there is something that speaks to me and demands I hear it before moving on.  On the first page of the introduction he writes of the two halves of life like this:  "The first task is to build a strong "container" or identity, the second is to find the contents that the container was meant to hold.".

 He explains this further on the flip side of that page when he clarifies about the second task being "what we are really doing when we are doing what we are doing."    Confused?  Read it again...what IS it that we are doing when we are doing what we go about our day to day lives?  What is our purpose?  What are we doing with our Space In Between?  Are we mindful of our actions?  Is there intentional thought in our responses when we have been wronged somehow, or do we do as all others around us do, react without allowing time for Grace to appear?

We all have Space In Between.  We all encounter situations every single day that ask something of us, when the question lingers unspoken in the air "Who am I?".  It is in our answer to that question that is raised during each and every Space In Between that we shore up our character, it is where we make conscious decisions about who we really are.  Oh sure, we often say "Well I just didn't think!" and that can be true.  However, I tend to assume that more often than not, we DO think, then we react in a way that is in concert with what we thought.

Our reactions and thought processes involved during our longer Spaces In Between are informed by all the thousands of very short Spaces In Between.  Just as a mason builds a sturdy, high brick wall, we too build our larger Spaces In Between on the building blocks of the smaller ones.  In other words, a life is created and looked back upon that is based upon all the smaller Spaces In Between that make up a whole.  We ultimately become that which we were in the smaller and less significant moments.  And if those moments are filled with small graces, we become gracious.  If those moments are filled with anger and hatred, we become hateful and compassion-less.

There are so many levels to this idea of Spaces In Between that it makes my brain hurt to think too much about it.  Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed, wishing that I could chew on much smaller bites, but one bite leads to another, which leads to another, and the next thing you know you have a seven course meal in front of you and you have no idea where to first stick your fork!!

I also wondered late this evening, as I mulled some of this over, what did others walk out of church thinking today?  What point did they most connect with in the sermon?  There can be no doubt that there were as many different sermons delivered this morning from our pulpit as there were members attending worship.  Each walked away with a significant sized nugget, the difference being the angle at which it was being held which provided a strikingly different perspective.

It is now after 2:00 am, long past time for me to get some rest.  I am sure I will have a few "Space In Between" moments tomorrow, and I am sure I will not always handle them as I might wish.  Perhaps simple awareness will increase the odds that grace will suddenly appear...


Anonymous said...

Nice post. In edubabble, we call this "Wait Time." And it's an interesting balance between providing adequate Wait Time to our students to think, and helping them build Automaticity in some processes...and getting them to slow down in others. How do you cultivate and balance this with your children?

Anonymous said...

The space between--the space for conscious living--the space for choice--how often we live our lives on autopilot. When we surface for a moment of consciousness we hope that our values are so inculcated that when we make those space between choices on autopilot our innate goodness automatically asserts itself.

I was talking with a friend today who commented on the pervasive negativity today. She remarked that wwe are constantly bombarded with news of violence, war, floods, tornadoes, economic disaster, political gridlock. Without even being conscious of how all these impact our lives and thoughts, so many of us reflect this in negative talk and thinking.

The space between, the space where we choose positive over negative, consciousness over apathy, action over inaction, peace over discord, love over hate.

You are thinking and acting consciously. Once more I can learn from you.