Wiederkehr: The Spaces
“Long ago when I was learning to type, I used to delight in typing letters to my friends without pressing the space bar. Now when you don’t press the space bar, you’ve got a real mess, and there is much decoding to be done. It is the spaces in between that enable us to understand the message.” —Macrina Wiederkehr in The Song of the Seed: A Monastic Way of Tending the Soul (HarperOne, 1997).
I remember reading this message from Sister Wiederkehr more than twenty years ago, and it still jumps off the page for me. She reminds us that many of us keep forgetting to press the space bar in our lives. She calls it hurry sickness. We will rest after we finish this one email, or project or phone call or meeting. She is calling us to spaces of contemplation or meditation or silence at intervals in our lives.
One of my favorite definitions of such a “space” is to stop what we are doing and attend a Quaker meeting in our head. Macrina reminds us of a Native American admonition to listen or our tongue will keep us deaf! I experience this often when I wake up in the morning, and suddenly an answer or idea about my writing comes after that long time of rest during the night. I know when I stop during the day to say prayers at daily intervals, life is more beautiful. But I can so easily become the driver of a Mack truck coming down a steep hill without brakes and hurriedly drive during the day from task to task without stopping.
Our computers and our iPhones are speaking to us. Have you ever noticed how much bigger the space bars are than the letters?
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