White Space


A few weeks ago I was talking with time management goddess, Lisa Hunter, about my ideal vision of daily life that included everything I wanted to accomplish without feeling overwhelmed and always behind. I imagined a day that ebbed and flowed, where everyone's needs (including my own) were met, with necessary periods of busy activity, but also, with what I called 'white space'.

'White space' is the yin to the yang of activity; the pause between breaths, between music notes, between ocean waves... the space on the page that allows for the content to be visible and remarkable... the context and container that holds everything else and gives it meaning.

I love to be busy. I've learned that I am, by nature, a restless person. But when everything runs together without space to breathe, reflect, daydream, do 'nothing', I fall apart.

I think this is true of just about everyone. We just may have widely varying degrees of tolerance, but sooner or later, we hit that point of 'enough already!' It's true of our activity level, our living space in the form of clutter, our webpages (grin), our choice of food intake. Simple, clean, uncomplicated anything just seems to be easier to assimilate, more fulfilling to experience, more nourishing for mind, body and soul.

And I chose to write this today, a Sunday.. a day earmarked for rest and worship in Christian traditions. I am not a particularly religious person, but I have observed how, as a consumeristic culture, we've all but done away with the sanctity of a day devoted to reflection, rather than busy-ness. As if that would only benefit adherents to a religion.

A Sabbath day, is, of course, not exclusive to Christianity. Jews observe it on Saturday; Muslims, on Friday. This is not a post exploring the origins and meanings of each tradition's Sabbath. I'm bringing this up because I recently came across an interesting, fresh interpretation of the fourth commandment (third for Roman Catholics) to "remember the Sabbath and keep it holy."

This interpretation (and, please forgive me.. I'm almost positive it was in a book about Mary Magdalene, the title of which escapes me now.. will reference later) suggested that the injunction to rest on this day had to do with retreating from all of the activities and associations that are connected to and further perpetuate our identities with 'self'.  We become very much identified with what we 'do', what we have.. our 'busy-ness', even with the people around us. As humans walking this earth, it's natural.. it's what we do. We are unique individuals who have and do stuff. But to take one day a week to step back and put all of that into a larger context.. put white space around our little stories, and open up to the bigger truth of Who We Really Are.. this is holy work. The work of becoming re-acquainted with Spirit, with God, with Self.

And if you're not of that frame of mind, at least it provides breathing room, fresh perspective, renewed appreciation and gratitude for our blessing to even be here walking this earth.  A clean canvas.

White space.