Contemplating the Space Between

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

What kind of space (between and among things) do you seek or crave?

What kind of space (between and among things) do you seek or crave?

My cell phone is broken. Technically, the keypad is broken, as I have a non-functioning space bar on my pda. Whenever I go to send a text, or compose a post to update my facebook status, or try to respond to an email via my droid,  I am stymied. Allthewords andlettersandthoughts runtogetherlikethis. It’s maddening, I tell you. The experience has me contemplating space, and the way space between words and thoughts, moments and feelings functions in my heart and mind. Without space between each letter on my keyboard, it’s hard to communicate clearly. I think the same thing might be said for my spirit: without space between experiences, between thoughts, questions, and  prayers, I’m not sure that I am fully entering into my life, and the present moment, and “getting” the fullness of God’s presence.

For seven of the last ten days, I have been in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; this is a wholly different “space” on numerous levels from life in Minnesota. Traveling south of the US border to spend time in the Baja Peninsula, where the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez mingles with the white beach sand and our pink adobe resort, is a stark contrast especially to the spaces that the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis inhabit. The summer and winter landscapes alone inspire a  radically different mindset; add the economic disparities between the Pueblo Bonito guests and the residents of Old Highland surrounding the Visitation Monastery, and you have a wider gap between life experiences and perhaps more dissonance in your brain.

These are some of my thoughts as I reflect and pray this day, focusing especially on space, and the space between things.

On one hand, I crave and must insist upon these pockets of air and the widened proximity between thoughts, feelings, questions, and experiences.  When everything runs together, I too feel like a jumbled mess on the inside and outside. On the other hand, when I consider increasing gulfs between people and resources, I likewise get anxious.

It is in traveling, however, in getting away from the familiar, that I find myself even closer to issues and emotions of home.

Mother and Child painting by Gabbi Patrick

I was standing outside a fine-Mexican-dining establishment in Cabo, with my daughter in front of me, awaiting our taxi,  when a local woman, black hair pulled back from her face,  with a small child strapped to her body, approached me with her hand outstretched. The brown of her skin and darkened pink palms with black under her nails struck me. Instinctively, I turned my body from her; somewhere in my mind, I couldn’t get far enough away from her — her need, want, her request for something from me. I craved space between this woman and her babe – and me with my own.

Reflecting on this moment now, I am embarrassed. I am filled with emotion; deep remorse and sorrow couple my recognition of my own poverty, need, and want. The space between this woman and I shrinks, and I see her as I see myself: full of desire, full of want; hungry for something…love, peace, a greater sense of security? The very thing that triggers my seemingly urgent need to turn away from this woman and experience lies at the heart of my need to be closer, gentler, kinder to my own self and the world around me. These are the very reasons I choose daily to align myself with the Visitation Community in north Minneapolis.

For your Reflection:

  • What kind of space (between and among things) do you seek or crave?
  • What surfaces in your prayer and reflection as you are present to your own life, community, world?
  • How is your proximity to poverty or wealth, silence or sound an inspiration for your own contemplation and action?

I welcome your responses.

3 Responses

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  1. I read your reflection with interest in your conceptualization of space between. I had this realization that there is space between things, which you wrote about and space between events or experiences which I enjoyed reflecting on within an online retreat this fall which Jim Smith conducted. Both are good. His spanned about 6 weeks, 3 times a week in which he reflected in a video about different spaces in life. the 56 participants could then respond and see one another’s responses and respond to them. (However, many did not share their thoughts.)

    In the stage of life in which I am now, I need and appreciate having the freedom to create my spaces. These include time spaces, event spaces, and thing spaces. I have quiet spaces which are peaceful; arranging my home spaces for my comfort and enjoyment; and hopefully to welcome family and friends; connecting spaces to friends, online, on the phone, in meeting places. Belonging to various groups, realizing that the interactions therein are sharing spaces of experience, empathy, eye-opening, heart-opening, ear-opening, reaching out, absorbing.

    “Open my eyes, Lord; help me to see your face; open my heart, Lord; help me to love.”

    Betty Lou

  2. This is interesting because I wrote a response to you and was about to submit it when it just disappeared into space! How’s that for thinking about the concept of ‘space?’

    Space is a sacred thing that God created to give us time… Time to breathe, time to figure it out, change our minds or rethink something for the good or betterment of ourselves.. With space comes patience as well… This is something that I battle with constantly … Having the patience to endure the space… It’s a moment to be conscious, to be comtemplative and to discern whatever it is that God has given us the space to do!

    Personal space is a privacy that humanity needs in order to find ourselves, learn ourselves and just BE! I love having ‘space’ as well as respecting other people’s space! It’s a necessary, and obvious part of all of our lives… I love it and I love the fact that our perfect, Lord and Savior, The Christ has created it… Along with all her other wonderous, miraculous and beautiful creations! Be Blessed, Melissa…

    Khalilah Shah Briscoe

  3. Something beautiful came out of your broken keyboard Melissa. Very nice reflection.

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