Hope in the White Space
I bought a giant calendar desk pad the day after Christmas. While others were grabbing Christmas paper, Christmas decor and all those weird stocking-stuffer gadgets now marked 75% off, I sought out a beautiful, floral calendar.
I held it up to admire it. Just look at it! So full of white space! So clean! So ready to hold all the hopes, dreams and plans that I can imagine! Such potential!
I took it home and proudly showed it to John.
“Don’t you love it?” I asked. “Isn’t it amazing?”
A slight grin emerged. “A calendar?” he inquired.
“Yes, isn’t it great? I love calendars I can actually write on. Sure, digital ones are fine, but paper is so much more tactile and it will look great on my desk and I got a special pen….” I prattled on.
Now he has a big smile. “Oooooookay, so you bought a calendar to put on a desk we don’t own, in a home we haven’t secured, for a place we haven’t yet determined? Is that correct?”
Deadpan stare back at him.
What is it about a new calendar that evokes such joy in me? I’m not sure, but I do know that there must be other Calendar-O-Philes out there who identify?
I didn’t have a paper calendar for 2019 and it’s probably a good thing. What does one write in one’s dayplanner when one’s husband is “booked” for 34 days in a Sudanese prison? Or how does one check off days as one recovers from said event for the next several months?
Frankly, reflecting over this past year is HARD. We had such hope as we entered 2019 in Sudan with residence visas in hand. We had invitations to work with local professionals. Doors were opening. My lunch dates even had opportunity to be filled. (And you know how much I love lunch appointments!)
But the days just didn’t unfold as we had hoped, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy of the work of reflection.
Alicia Chole says, “My encouragement then to us all is to savor endings.
Stay attentive to them until their last note dissipates. Rest in the silence that follows for within it you just might find a milestone.”
I can feel the “notes” of Sudan dissipating and I’m resting in the silence.
Silence, in itself, can be disconcerting. It can be like white space on a calendar waiting to be filled.
And there is my Dr. Phil epiphany! A giant calendar with white space represents all the silence I’m feeling in my soul.
I’m eager to fill it up with happenings. To feel momentum. To have the appearance of life being lived.
But as much as I want to do that, I’m pausing. Pausing to stay attentive, to rest in the silence.
I held my husband as he stepped off the plane following his release.
In restrained sobs,
I hugged our family as they greeted us upon return.
With unfilled days,
we had time to regain our equilibrium.
Through grateful tears,
we embraced our first grandchild.
In stunned thankfulness,
we received kindness upon kindness from dear ones far and near.
For in all of the happenings of the year, Jesus’ presence held quietly steady and in that I’m learning to trust in a deeper way.
Calendars aren’t so much to me a marker of what will happen, but more a declaration of faith that I continue to hold hope even when the days (weeks or year!) look nothing like what I had planned.
So, Jesus, I’m offering to you with great anticipation and trust all of my 2020 calendar white space.
“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” Romans 5:4-5 MSG