Thursday, June 20, 2013

Episode Five: Thin Space

Thin space.

It's a divinity-school-type term--theological jargon you're likely to hear thrown around at church conferences and other such settings where ecclesiastically-minded folk gather.

Thin space. 

A few weeks ago a colleague serving a small country church as interim pastor shared his recent experience sitting with a parishioner, an elderly woman, and holding her hand as he listened to the stories of her life.  He was with her just days before she died, in those translucent moments between life and death.  As he recalled his time with this woman later, over a shared meal with friends, he cried.  He shed fresh tears because those in-between-moments, moments when we are neither here nor there, alive nor dead, they are overwhelming, sacred, humbling, awe-inspiring space.

Thin space. 

A friend is preparing to move from Columbia--packing up boxes, hugging goodbye, turning toward a new, exciting job and a different life gradually taking shape in her soon-to-be hometown. Caught between the life she has been living here and the new existence she's carving out for herself, one foot behind her, one foot ahead--she waits in the transient, fluid, ambiguous space of change and transition--neither here nor there.

Thin space. 

I'm 29 years old.  It seems important somehow.  Not because I fear getting older or am worried about what's to come but because it's different. No longer a 20-something, not a thirty-something quite yet.  It's the space in the middle, stuck in between what was and what will be. Scary, exhilarating, happy, sad, space.  Space full of things I didn't get around to and tasks I might accomplish one day.  Space for all that I have become.  Space for all that I one day hope to be.

Thin space. 

We're done with our home study.  We've created our online adoption profile.  Our "dear birth mother" letter has been printed and is being sent to the adoption agency at this very moment.  So now we wait.  Not yet parents, not yet even in relationship with the young woman who will bring this one-day-child, this-one-day-child who will be both fully hers and fully ours, into the world.  But we're already thinking about cribs and changing tables, first steps and late night tears.  Neither here nor there, somehow lingering between the "what-was" of a life for two and the "what-will-be" of a life built around three.

Thin space. 

Life and death; here and there; young and not-so-young-anymore; a family of two and a family of three.

The dusk. The dawn. The twilight. The translucent membrane of the already-not yet.

Terrifying, beautiful, holy, sacred, mundane, spectacular, thin space. 




4 comments:

  1. Such beauty in naming these thin spaces. Prayers for you, and for the heart-bursting full spaces to come.

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  2. Thank you friend--thank you so very much.

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  3. Beautiful writing and wonderful examples. I know better what "thin spaces" mean, and I can empathize with your wish to become parents. But I wonder what "thick spaces" might be. As a 69-year-old, I had a long conversation with a 79-year-old last night at one of our church's "Hot Dogs in the Park" events which we open to residents around our church in the Rosedale neighborhood of KCK. He has taken in an adult granddaughter and her boyfriend and her kids into his house in which he has lived 42 years. Is he in a thick space? He has become a multi-generaltional caregiver. His competency and good health serve him and many family members well, but how long can he keep this up? He remembers repeating the third grade three times due to a childhood stutter. And he remembers in great detail the early death of one 20-year-old daughter in 1983, and the suicides of a teen-age neighbor boy and of a middle-aged son of a good friend. It was a privilege to have him share these memories with me. Would it be fair to also say: "Terrifying, beautiful, holy, sacred, mundane, spectacular, thick space."

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  4. Pip-I've never thought of the term before, "thick space," but I like it. A space that is so heavy with emotion and "real-life-ness" that it can only be described as "thick."

    Thank you for this. I feel as though I'll be carrying this phrase around and mulling it over for quite awhile.

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