Blessing the space between us
We are getting used to ‘social distancing’. We are denied the ability to visit one another and gather together. We are to stay at home. If we are able to venture out, we are to obey the markings on the floor of the supermarket. We stand two metres apart.
This creates space between us. Today, Reverend Susan Blagden gives us a wholly different way of viewing space, and the way it can bless us and those we love – even at a physical distance!
Christ in the Wilderness: Stanley Spencer
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…’
(Ephesians 1: 3)
‘Clod in Dduw a Thad ein Harglwydd Iesu Grist! Mae wedi tywallt pob bendith ysbrydol sy’n y byd nefol arnon ni sy’n perthyn i’r Meseia …’
(Effesiaid 1: 3)
‘Bless the space between us’ is a phrase that was coined by the contemporary priest and poet, John O’Donohue. In the painting by Stanley Spencer of ‘Christ in the Wilderness’ we get a sense of just how de-stabilising the wilderness, with all its seemingly wild space, can be.
So what might it mean to bless the space, particularly as we find ourselves forced into keeping a distance from friends, family and places that are dear to us?
To bless someone, is to hold that person in God’s unending love.
To bless is to offer grace.
It is this grace that is transformative.
Of course Lent has traditionally been a time when Christians have attempted to ‘clear some space’ in their lives. It is no coincidence that a ‘spring clean’ of the home would often be undertaken at this time too. It can be hugely helpful to notice what has crept into our lives and our thoughts over time, and now threatens to choke the life out of some part of us or our relationships. We may have previously been simply too busy to notice this subtle encroachment on our space, be that physical, mental, emotional, or even spiritual space.
So as we come to prayer: take some time to honestly reflect on where there needs to be more space in your life. Take a moment to confess to God whatever you sense you need to receive his forgiveness for. Then take some time to become aware of the spaces that have been forced upon you.
That leaves us space to live in a way that can express God’s love, more fully and deeply. Find your own words to pray a blessing – for yourself and those God places on your heart.
To bless that person is, indeed, to hold them in the space that is God’s unending love.
Christ of the Wilderness,
teach me how to live for a while in this spacious, yet sometimes frightening and de-stabilising wilderness landscape.
Help me to clear space in my life to leave the worrying details behind and trust the new space that You will bring me into.
Give me courage to step into this space and to experience a new depth of encounter with those whom I love.
May your love and grace bless each of those in-between spaces.
In Christ’s name. Amen.