white space is silence

There is a different kind of quiet inside for hearing God.
Gary Haugen

White space is . . .

Q U I E T.

The first part of white space is what we take away. Noise.

Notice how I wrote quiet as if it were loud? That is the kind of quiet I am talking about. Quiet you can actually hear. Not busy quiet. Beyond that.

I might have to start with . . .

S I M M E R D O W N.

I might have to turn down the fire beneath me as if I am a pot on the stove. Waaay down so it won’t boil over or burn on the bottom. I need the kind of low and slow heat, the kind of heat that brings out flavor over time, that needs stirring and watching closely, like caramelizing or making a roux. I am preparing to pay attention.

H U S H.

Getting to rich quietness will take hushing the noise of life. I need to hush my mouth and my mind. I have to brush aside the demands of the day at least for a little bit. If my mind is still racing with things to do, I might write a few things down just to get them out of my head and remind myself, my urgent list can wait until I attend to important things.

When my whippersnappers were tiny and many, finding the hush meant rising in the dark and tiptoeing around the squeaky floorboards before those little hearts stirred and their feet hit the floor.

It was HARD. Some mornings I just truly needed sleep, but meeting God in the hush was always worth it. I took that hush and my time with Jesus into my heart and into my day. I had little ones, a husband, friends and neighbors to give it to. Now I have big ones, married ones and grands to give it to along with my husband, friends and neighbors. The hush is not just for me.

S I L E N C E.

I think of silence as beyond quiet and for a longer stretch of time where you start noticing things you miss even when it's quiet. In the silence, I can hear the white noise in my home, the hum of the refrigerator or the sigh of the wall. Or if I'm outside in the silence, I hear the gentle wind through the trees, a single leaf fluttering from the branch, the peck of a bird’s beak, the skitter of a chipmunk, the fall of an acorn on soft dirt.

I think I see better and notice finer details in the silence.
Look at this tiny bird's egg that I did not step on when I was out for a walk.

For the last 6 weeks, I have not had the radio on while I am in my car. At first, I wanted something to make the trip shorter, a distraction or a current event to catch up on, but I can honestly tell you I still get the news, just in smaller doses and when I go looking for it. And now I am deciding what to set my mind on rather than having it decided for me. I have been remembering to pray for things I said I’d pray for, I have been thinking on things that need attention in my heart, in my relationships or around the house. I have been asking myself hard questions and trying to put some energy into answering them.

In the silence, I have taken to scribbling my stray thoughts on an index card at stoplights. My scribblings are scraps of thought and illegible. I'm not sure where they'd be if I hadn't found the silence. Maybe they would have surfaced later or been lost forever.

Here are a few things I copied into my commonplace book that will make their way into my writing.

Why all the silence?

Because I have a thirsty soul that is trying to make it to the well and fill up with water, living water. Silence is a starting place for my soul to be filled.

My soul is what I am trying to hear, that handcrafted-by-God part of me that has the imprint of my personality and life, the embroidery of my heart. I am calling the soul that space between the body and the spirit, a crossing between the tangible and the intangible, the material and the immaterial, the perishable and the imperishable.

Jesus is that crossing. He is Jacob’s ladder between glory and dirt.

My soul, I think, is the part of me that can surrender to God or resist, that part that lives in this world and longs for the next. Connecting to my soul opens the door to deep calling to deep, grace upon grace, glory piled on glory. My spirit recognizing God’s spirit. That is what I am thirsty for.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.

Psalm 42:1

I am getting quiet to hear the living God who created me, loves me, refines me, redeems me and restores me. I need him. Being too loud, the world can empty my soul. My soul is God-shaped, so nothing but the Almighty will do. I can stuff my soul with lots of good things, but only God fills me up.

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.

Psalm 107:8-9

Getting to silence just gets me ready to really hear.

There's no way around it, at some point quiet leads to silence and then you can hear God. That little bit of white space where you find silence can be the start of giving your soul the air and sunshine and soil it needs to breath and grow.

Savor the silence.