Friday, October 12, 2012

Creating Needed Space

How do you create space in your life?

My life is a story, as is yours. I love stories. They are powerful to me. Stories inspire, challenge, provoke laughs and stir tears.
I believe that God uses His story and ours to impact and change the lives of people.
Recently my story has become dull and uninteresting. I think it is reflected in how little I’ve been able to blog lately. What’s going on? There are too many “words” on the page.
If you notice when reading a book, the publisher has been careful to have margins on each page. There is “white space”. That margin helps us to read and take in the page. The more words and less space on a page make us work harder to get the story.
For around two years I’ve had too much stuff going on in my life. It is good stuff; important and eternal stuff. Often it is life and death stuff. But if I don’t intentional keep margin on the pages it becomes too much stuff and the story is bogged down.
That’s where I am. What should I do?
I’ve sensed God inviting me to slow down and create some space with the experience of solitude. For years I had the habit of going away to a cabin in the woods for a couple of days, two to three times a year. In solitude I worship, read, sing, think and write. I haven’t had meaningful solitude in about 16 months. I’m overdue.
I’ve placed on my calendar a date for two days of solitude, soon. Meanwhile, Thursday looked like the last decent day for weather as we move into the rainy Fall so I dropped everything and went for a day long motorcycle ride.
I took a book and my journal. I searched the net for a cool coffee/bakery type place as a destination to hang out. And I plotted a course that I’d never driven that looked like it would be picturesque with the colors of Fall.
The day didn’t turn out as I hoped. The morning was cold, overcast and damp. After two hours of riding I was chilled and tired. About ten miles from my bakery destination the sun broke out and the colors began to pop. I thought, “This is more like it.”
Then I got to the “bakery”. It was a little trailer at a spot in the road that I missed and had to turn around to find. When I walked into the empty room and asked "What's cooking?" they said they had “baked” some pizza. It was not the haven I longed for but I knew where one was and I mounted the bike for the hour or so ride to get there.
The ride was on the Mountain Loop from Darrington to Granite Falls. It was beautiful in a dozen ways. I drank in the sun breaks, colors, streams and rivers and wildlife. Then suddenly my dream ride ran out of pavement, seriously. The loop has a 15 mile stretch of single lane, gravel road. My cruiser and I were not excited to navigate this road as I had to cease drinking in the surrounding beauty and fix my gaze on the hundreds of pot holes I was now dodging. Did I mention for 15 miles.


Finally I hit pavement again, enjoyed the ride for several miles, and then arrived at my warm coffee shop with the overstuffed leather furniture, only to find it closed. Are you kidding me?

I’m really tired and cold after four hours of riding. I know another coffee rendezvous about an hour away so I hit the road. I can’t wait to smell some roasted beans and pour some hot coffee down my throat. But, about mid-way between the two towns, literally in the middle of nowhere, I had a flat.


Fortunately my phone worked and I called AAA. They were quick to inform me that my “Plus” membership didn’t include motorcycle service but they were glad to upgrade me for a fee. I upgraded. They contacted a tow truck and dispatched him to my location with the promise of a 45 minute wait.

You know where this is going. The tow truck called me in 45 minutes to say they were not coming because their truck broke down. AAA called another truck that was already helping someone else. He said he could get to me in 90 minutes.
As I sat on the side of the road for two and a half hours I prayed. I wondered if God would redeem this lost episode so that something meaningful would happen between me and the truck driver, or some other driver that might stop, or the service tech at the shop or anything else that God is capable of doing.
No, there was no magic to the day. No great story to tell. No productive thinking and writing. At the end of the day I was simply a tired, hungry, cold rider with a flat. Even as I write and read that last statement I think, “Yea, pitiful first world whining.”
But, it is where my story is right now. And, I’m not satisfied with my story. I’m challenged to create space and see my character engaged in more interesting, meaningful, and Gospel mission engagement. It’s not like that is not happening right now. It’s just that I’m not able to enjoy and engage it as I know it can be.
How’s it going with your story?