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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where's My White Space??

Hi Friends,

Okay, crazy week here. Life crammed together so tight I'm only just now getting to my regular Wednesday blog post. Alas! It's not right! Between school starting, the baby getting more and more active, the horse getting colic, as well as all the regular "crazy," I'm in serious need of a nice, hot white mocha with peppermint from Starbucks!

Anyway, as I was thinking about this week, I was reminded of a story I think I've talked about before, but I really needed to ponder it again. So, I thought I'd share it here to help me remember (and maybe some of y'all too :-)) that I really need to have "white space" in my life, and when I don't, well, that ain't pretty.

Here's my thoughts on that, in the form of a little story:

“This is crazy!” I threw the papers onto the table and dropped back to my chair. “I know I said I would critique this article, but I can’t.”

Bryan strolled into the room with a mug in his hand. The smell of coffee permeated the air. “Isn’t that the last one?” He sat on the couch and motioned to the papers now scattered across the tabletop.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I was supposed to be reviewing articles for a writer’s seminar the next day. I’d finished the other fourteen, but not this one. I had read only a page before tossing it onto the table. “Yes, it’s the last one. But still . . .”

He shrugged and sipped the coffee. “So, just do it and get it over with.”

“I know.” I sighed. “I don’t have time to waste. I need to get it done so I can study my Greek, write that paper, pack my bag for tomorrow, feed the baby, and fold the laundry.”

Bryan raised his eyebrows. “Well, you’d better get to it, then.”

“I tried.” I peeked at the article through one eye. “Have you seen it?”

Bryan set down his mug and gathered the papers. He glanced at them. “Oh, wow.”


“There aren’t any paragraphs.”

I rubbed my temples. “Single-spaced, small type, no paragraphs, tiny margins. It exhausts me to just look at it.”

Bryan tapped the papers together, then handed them back to me. “White space.”


“There isn’t any white space. People don’t like to read things that don’t have white space.”

Of course. I knew that. “So what should I do?”

Bryan stood up. “Tell the person to put in white space next time. That should be the first thing on your critique list.” He started toward the door to the kitchen, then paused and tossed a final comment over his shoulder. “By the way, that article isn’t the only thing that lacks white space around here.”

“What do you mean?”

He didn’t answer. The door swung shut as he disappeared beyond it.

Silly man. I shook my head and forced myself to focus on the tight print before me. A few minutes later, I found an error and clicked my red pen. But there was no space to make a correction. Further on, I would have made a comment, but again, I had no room. The lack of white space not only made me tired, but it didn’t allow for the improvements I wanted to suggest either.

I finally finished the article, made some comments on the back of one of the sheets, then turned to my to-do list. The length of it made my head spin.

White space.

I looked at the list again -- activities crammed together, things to do, tasks to accomplish. I frowned. Was this what Bryan was talking about? Maybe my life lacked white space in the same way the article had. Single-spaced, no paragraphs, small margins. No wonder I was exhausted.

I glanced at the laundry, my Greek book, and my half-packed bag. Then, I looked at my Bible, lying on the footstool near the couch. Just yesterday I had read in Leviticus about the Sabbath and a list of festivals that God prescribed for his people. At the time, I had skimmed over the reading, thinking it had little to do with my life. But now, as I pondered the idea of the Sabbath and the festivals, I saw in them a rhythm to the life God ordered for Israel, a rhythm that included breaks, rests, and celebration. A rhythm that had plenty of white space.

As I picked up my Bible and placed it into my bag, I began to understand the wisdom of God’s command for rest, and the foolishness of my tight-print, no paragraph life. I, too, needed space for my eyes to rest, room in my life for direction from God, empty places where He could write His comments, suggestions, and corrections on my heart. I needed time to rest, and listen, and simply “be.”

Since then, I’ve learned that white space is as important as words, for there is where God speaks into the silence.


Edna said...

I am sure writters have a hard time coming up with enough words to fill a book, I know I am not a writter but I could never think of that many words.


Marlo Schalesky said...

Thanks for the comment, Edna! Sometimes it's hard to find the words, other times we writers come up with too many and have to make cuts. It's a crazy life! :-)