Last night, I sat around the table with three other women. We dipped tortilla chips in guacamole and salsa, we filled taco shells with slow-cooked carnitas, we clinked Mason jar mugs of accompanying drink one to the other, as we leaned into the legacy of one another’s stories, as we laid out memories on the altar of yesterday.
We remembered. We lamented. We laughed.
We clung to the goodness of hope, to unknown futures of what-might-be.
At one point, crowded together around the four-top table, we got to honor one of the women among us – a strong, fierce, indomitable force of a human being who’d given us a reason to gather together in the first place.
She’s a friend I’ve known for nearly two decades, our respective lives an overlap of friendship and ministry, heartache and hope. And as her face flashed across my mind, I remembered the many times we’d been together: usually, it was nothing fancy. Usually, it looked like a cup of tea or a glass of water, a walk under the trees or a pause in squishy backyard chairs.
“You’ve given me the gift of space,” I said to her, maybe thinking about it for the first time in eighteen years of friendship.
I have such a propensity to do, to get all the things done and say all the right words and sometimes even write all the right words, too. I can get so caught up in all the doing that I forget that I need to stop and pause and do some being. (Did you catch those last three words?)
I forget that real live is lived in the spaces, that real creativity is birthed in the holy pauses of life.
When it comes to friendship, I realized how she gave me the gift of space when she didn’t steer conversation in a particular direction but our words where they needed to go. She gave me the gift of space when she kept her phone in the other room, its presence a distraction she didn’t need to interrupt our time together. And she gave me the gift of space when she allowed me to just be me, to let the mess of the inside and the outside not be tidied up for her arrival.
I could go on, but it makes me wonder where and how I can continue to create space in my life, how I can sprinkle a tiny bit of what she’s taught me onto the rest of the world.
I think about a day like today: I have a sermon to write for this weekend, a book review that’s due in a week and a half, and anticipated edits for my own book set to arrive in my inbox any day now. But when I look at Sunday morning’s text, it’s not like the words I’m supposed to say glow with the Holy Spirit, a dazzling display of neon disco lights on the computer screen before me.
Instead, I have to sit with the text, for more time than I think is necessary. I have to print it out and read it over and over again, before lunch and after lunch, before a morning phone call and after an afternoon walk to the Free Little Library to drop off a stack of books.
Eventually, I type a paragraph of maybe-this-is-where-we’re-heading words, but then, another load of laundry. Then, another hour of sitting.
I have to create space, even if it’s not my M.O.
“I know I don’t look like I’m working,” I said to my husband earlier today, cognizant of his presence when I’m used to having the house to myself on Wednesdays and Thursdays. “But I’m working, I really am. The creativity just takes time.”
He nodded his head, eyes glassy from the fever that came over his body last night. Shrugging his shoulders, he smiled.
“Yeah, I didn’t think that at all,” he replied and I felt myself breathing deeply. I’m hardest on myself, worried about what my lack of productivity looks like on the outside, about how the space I’ve let myself enter into might be perceived by others.
As I head upstairs to sit and wait some more, a smile creeps over my face: this space I’m leaning into, the space I so desperately need and have to create in every area of my life, doesn’t look all that shiny and productive on the outside.
But here, real life is lived and holy creativity is birthed.
Here, just as my friend gave to me, I receive the gift of space.
So, your thoughts? How do you create space in your life? Also, ours was a little party – a tiny gathering of friends, really – but I’ll tell you what: one of my favorite ways to extend an invitation is through Paperless Post. Check them out!0