I am sure at some point one of my parents told he other, “I need some space.” The desire for space – a place or moment to catch one’s breathe, gather one’s thoughts, or simply fall down in despair – is necessary if not healthy. Everyone needs some “alone time.”
My parents gave each other a large chunk of space. We moved four hours away from my father and he drove every other weekend to visit us. He tried to do everything he could to hold the pieces of a marriage together and space is no friend to that agenda. For space to be healthy it needs purpose. I want time to think about ________. Let us both take some time to consider ________, or to try __________. When one desire space and another doesn’t, space simply becomes the opportunity to let go and forge ahead.
Simply put, space creates a moment to reconnect with ‘self’ and to identify personal desires and dreams again. For my parents, space was a slow death born out of ‘selfish’ desire. I think one wanted to return to the old, while the other want to be something new. Both agendas could not live in the same space. Space had become a struggle rather than an act of grace.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is continually setting aside space. Space to refresh, for prayer, to teach, etc. His space was purposeful – sabbatical moments during an intense ministry. At times his demands for space were light, like retreating for prayer, but other times it was harsh with words like “you need to go away, we aren’t on the same page.” He sought out moments for renewal and recommitment, and interestingly he was not solitary in his pursuit for space.
We should not kid ourselves; space is not a vacuum. When we seek space we will ultimately seek out connection, compassion, and encouragement from others. And what kind of connection we seek will depend on our commitment to space and our understanding of who we are as individuals. How often do two friends take a break from each other and never speak again because some element of their relationship changes. It can be as simple as moving out of the neighborhood or changing jobs.
In my mother’s space, I connected with my grandparents, friends at the bus stop, and my father. In them I began to learn who I was and what the world was about – especially how important gravity is when you live with so much space.