I am sitting in my study looking out at the sun shining on the snow. It is a February thaw, and I can see the water dripping steadily from the eaves. Out by our shed, I can see the picket fence that separates our property from our neighbors. The sun shines through the wooden slats, casting dark shadows on the bright snow. Beyond the fence are second-growth trees stretching up a slight knoll.
I am suddenly aware of the spaces between everything. The spaces between the dripping water drops, the spaces between the pickets, the spaces between the shadows, and the spaces between the trees. I am even aware of the open space of the glass door that allows me to view the space beyond.
The spaces are what create the objects. There are no drops of water without space between them, no pickets without the spaces between them, no shadows without the contrast with the light.
Then I am aware of the space between my thoughts. The spaces distinguish thought from thought. I hear some music drifting in from the living room where my wife is babysitting our grandson. The spaces between the notes create the music. The spaces in the paintings on my wall produce beauty. Thespacesbetweentheletterscreatethewords.
Because the spaces are so important, I decide to dwell in the spaces for a while – the spaces between sounds, the spaces between thoughts, the spaces between emotions, the spaces between breaths, the spaces between heartbeats.
In the Old Testament it is said that God dwelled in the space between the wings of cherubim on the ark of the covenant. There was nothing there to identify the presence of God. No image like other religions had. No symbol. No writing. Just empty space.
Yet in the emptiness is God. No physical, verbal or mental image can communicate God. No doctrine captures God; God dwells in the space between ideas. Even today the Jews do not speak the Biblical name of God. They know that no name is adequate.
The same is true of prayer. I pray with words, but God dwells between the words. God lives in the silence between my sentences and thoughts. So I spend most of my prayer time in the empty space where God dwells. In that space is peace. In that space is truth. In that space is God.
Photo is “After the Snow” by Solo