The story is told of Susanna Wesley who, inundated by her many children and household duties, would sit in the kitchen and simply cover her head with an apron. This was her sacred space. And no one interrupted.
However, Susanna‘s input into her children, including Charles and John, ultimately had a profound impact on 18th century England. And the ripples are still being felt today through the Methodist movement across the world.
We also need to find our space if we’re going to thrive. This has the potential to be a generous space where we can become the change we want to see.
And it isn’t just physical. Our sense of occupying a space that is unique to us – we are named here – is part of being human.
That’s why we also need to be aware of what we do in only identifying people as numbers or categories. It invades their space and makes them smaller.
‘I see you’ is so powerful. That includes seeing ourselves.
Find our space to listen
During this week the exchange on listening has been wonderful. It seems to have struck a timely chord. But perhaps that’s not surprising.
There is a growing weariness because people are not feeling heard. Over time these layers build up until the weight becomes almost overwhelming. We then either give up caring – and our space shrinks some more – or we walk away and find another space to call ‘home’.
So ‘I hear you’ is as powerful as ‘I see you’. That includes hearing ourselves.
Indeed, I’m not sure if we can really hear the other, or the world around us if we can’t hear ourselves.
I’m not talking about narcissism or self-obsession, but an openness to listen. To take ourselves seriously enough to find space to hear what’s really going on…
For some, this is the space to speak out loud. To talk it out.
Whilst others need quiet reflection, with the courage to capture it in some way.
It’s extraordinary how this frees us to be able to breathe more deeply and listen more intentionally.
Find our space to connect
‘I see you’ and ‘I hear you’ both create space that is broader than ourselves, yet becomes part of us.
Recently we watched the 2018 film The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a delightful historical romantic–drama set in the occupied Channel Island during WWII. I was struck by a comment early in the film when they realised that they weren’t just hungry for food, but were starving for meaningful connection. Oh yes!
And that’s us too. Even in a hyper-connected world – we don’t have to wait days for the Postal Service – we are lonely and isolated. We just don’t always realise it.
So I wonder who you see and hear? And where are you seen and heard? Because the imperative to find our space is as much relational as it is physical.
My go-to book for the year continues to be John O’Donohue‘s Benedictus. And as a weekend reflection, I offer you his lovely blessing for friendship:
May you be blessed with good friends,
And learn to be a good friend to yourself,
Journeying to that place in your soul where
There is love, warmth and feeling.
May this change you.
May it transfigure what is negative, distant
Or cold within your heart.
May you be brought in to real passion, kindness
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them, be there for them
And receiving all the challenges, truth and light you need.
May you never be isolated but know the embrace
Of your Anam Cara.*
John O’Donahue, Benedictus – a book of blessings, Bantam Press 2007
*Anam Cara is the anglicised version of the Irish anamchara, meaning ‘soul friend’.
May we have the courage and confidence to find our space. Together.
Thanks for being here
Feels like it has been extraordinarily rich – in surprising ways – on listening.