I’ve shared a quotation in this blog before from a book by Ann Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea. Below are a few others on the themes of solitude, silence, simplicity and open space for God.
“For it is only framed in space that beauty blooms. Only in space are events and objects and people unique and significant—and therefore beautiful. A tree has significance if one sees it against the empty face of sky. A note in music gains significance from the silences on either side. A candle flowers in the space of night. Even small and casual things take on significance if they are washed in space, like a few autumn grasses in one corner of an Oriental painting, the rest of the page bare.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Gift from the Sea. New York: Pantheon Books, Inc., 1955, p. 114-115.)
I remember one of my guitar teachers in my high school years pointing out that my solos were too full of notes. He suggested that the empty spaces were just as important as the notes. Mature spirituality recognizes the same reality.
“My life in Connecticut, I begin to realize, lacks this quality of significance and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well.” (Lindbergh, p. 115.)
Uncluttering is one of the gifts I’ve discovered in solitude and silence with God. I find that my mind and heart need enough space to breathe.
“There are not too many activities or things or people, and each one, I find, is significant, set apart in the frame of sufficient time and space. Here there is time; time to be quiet; time to work without pressure; time to think; time to watch the heron, watching with frozen patience for his prey. Time to look at the stars or to study a shell; time to see friends, to gossip, to laugh, to talk. Time even, not to talk.” (Lindbergh, p. 116.)
Lindbergh writes these words from a retreat time away. How am I making time throughout the week, the month or the year for such space and time with God?
I have time for whatever it is I truly desire, what I am actually responsible for under God, and what is required of me in my place in life. Period. I waste a lot of time on other activities.
“The multiplicity of the world will crowd in on me again with its false sense of values. Values weighed in quantity, not quality; in speed, not stillness; in noise, not silence; in words, not in thoughts; in acquisitiveness, not beauty. How shall I resist the onslaught?” (Lindbergh, p. 119-120.)
Solitude and simplicity are two disciplines that help me cope with the onslaught of manyness and muchness. As you think about Lindbergh’s contrasts, how do they speak to your own sense of what matters in your life and work?