White space is a place to wonder, to ask questions and sit awhile without the answer.
I’ll be honest, the silence can be unsettling. Mostly if I think I have to have all the answers or I have to get it right the first time. But in unhurried time, the more familiar I am with the heart of Jesus, the more I can still have peace in my heart while I wait for answers, come around to the fullness of an answer or even accept those that stay just out of my reach. I might even learn a thing or two in the waiting.
White space is for childlike curiosity and trust.
You can write your questions down, let them float around a bit, put them against scripture, share them with someone you trust, bring them to a mentor later or ask Jesus to answer them. You could even bury them in the dirt and forget about 'em. I do a bit of all of this. I start by writing words, thoughts and wonderings in my commonplace book and then slowly gather them into early morning poems. This helps me get to the stirrings of my heart and if I keep at it, to my soul.
I am reading through the book of John. I did not get very far before I had questions, like . . .
- what does it mean that Jesus is light?
- what must it have been like to be John the Baptist (to know your cousin, but not know who he was until the moment you baptized him)?
- what is grace upon grace?
- what is glory?
- how on the world could you possibly hold it?
Good grief, that is all in the first eighteen verses! I might never finish it. But then, what’s my hurry? White space is unhurried time. Right?
I had been thinking on glory, but not yet talking about it when Mike and I took our dog Luke on a walk. He asked what I was working on. Luke splashed through the creek lapping up the cold, clear water and slinging some into the morning light.
“Just wondering about glory", I said.
I was thinking it might have something to do with lightning or dirt or both. After all Jesus was God from another realm and a man on Earth in skin and bones. Even resurrected, he had skin and bones. Mike had been wondering about the miracle of dirt. It is a miracle if you think about it. How does dirt work, really? Dirt, water, sunshine, seed and viola!, a peony, a magnolia tree, a sky high cedar, a stand of aspens, a spreading live oak, mushrooms, some moss, a fern, a pumpkin, a vine, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and pecans.
To my way of thinking, this is good stuff to let my head and heart dive into and swim around in. This is why I want to keep the world at bay at least long enough to finish a thought. This is good ground to bring to my daily work, driving around town, snuggling my grands, walking with Mike, cooking dinner and hearing the evening news.
Here is the poem sparked by the first few verses of the book of John and the act of resting my little heart and mind on glory and dirt. I already shared it a few days back, but then came across the memory of how it came into a poem.
One of the things I love about a writing life is that my wrestlings on the page continue to reverberate hours, days and even years later in my soul. I had this aha as my fingers touched the keys on Instagram about a week ago.
"Sometimes I feel like a wicker basket that can't hold it all, my friendships, sad stories, God's grace and my doubts. Then I realize, His glory can shine through that way. Whew!"
We are all just wicker baskets holding God's glory. Let it shine.
by Terri Conlin
How can I hold glory
Glory piled on top of glory
Lightning strikes in fair skies
Streaking through my hair
Pouring out of fingerprints
Current from electric blue eyes
Iris to iris
Heart to heart
Fireworks spark dragonflies
Cross my fingers
Curve my thumbs
I make a bowl with my hands
But glory overruns
Filling up and passing through
Leaving traces in my plans
I met him at the table
In the broken bread
Pouring stars and sands
I wander between the worlds
Barbed wire fences and broken gates
Searching for my soul
I am holding it, of course
In my dirty fist
Cracked and weathered dry
Thirsty to the slake
Glory shines in the dirt
In the blood and sweat
Touching skin and bones
Leaving seeds in wounds and scars
Watered with my tears
Scattered on the wind and sown
Within the circled hawk
Hallelujah under shadowed wing
Carve out my heart of stone