“Music is the space between the notes.” –Claude Debussy
“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whipser. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloack and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” –1 Kings 19:11-13
It’s easy to think that God is most near to us when we experience the highlights of our lives as might be recorded by a biographer: a wedding, a birth, a baptism, a huge job promotion, a new move to a bigger house, a well-earned retirement. And, to be sure, God’s handiwork is often apparent at such momentous occasions. But such thinking is merely beholding the surface and missing what lies deeper. Take a cue from Debussy. Just as the totality of music is more than the notes you hear but the spaces between them, life is more than the major events we experience but the times of solitude, questioning, heartache, and mundanity in between.
Finding Jesus in the space
Humans are wired for action. We fill our lives with something, anything, to avoid a void. Space is scary…we were built for contact with earth, not floating amongst stars. Our hearts need constant fertilization and sunlight. Emptiness is what we run away from, not what we seek.
Yet humans are nothing if not a paradox. In our primal moments, we long for the silence. We long to be transported beyond ourselves. We long to become emptied, so we can be filled with Other.
It is in this place of abandon that we come face to face with our Maker. The place of weakness. The place of vulnerability. The place of self-insufficiency.
And there He is, waiting for us — the received gift of our asking, the found one of our seeking, the open door by our knocking.
And He longs to fill us, fill us with His strength, His safety, His sufficiency. The notes of the Divine Music.
”In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” –Luke 6:12
I take comfort in the fact that even Jesus when he was a man on earth had to be intentional about finding that place of space — getting away from the crowds, the questions, and the debates, and setting his face towards his heavenly Father. You’d think a guy who could walk on water, heal a withered hand, and raise some dude from the dead would always be on Cloud 9. But it would seem he very much needed that time away, that time alone. Perhaps you could even argue that his mountaintop retreats were the reason why he could do all those other things.
If Jesus found his Dad in the space between the notes, maybe we need more space too.
More space to live.
More space to love.
More space to simply exist.
More space to find that is which most important.
I’d like to prioritize space this coming year. Time to listen!