September 4, 2005

Musings on Spaciousness

There are many kinds of spaciousness – there is spaciousness of physical form, of time, of presence, and I have discovered, of love.

Form: I recently moved into a different house, and took this opportunity to purge a lot of unnecessary possessions that have collected over time. It is so freeing to feel the spaciousness of physical form –uncluttered walls and airy rooms with few furnishings, and even drawers and closets that have extra room in them. Also, the view from the windows looks out to a vast country landscape of fields, distant hills, and deep forests – a delightful spaciousness to explore.

Time: A couple of years ago, my only child left for college, and my extra activities related to her busy schedule came to a sudden slowdown. Since I work full-time, finding extra hours when I was free from tasks, schedules, and events was a luxury. Though I missed my daughter’s daily physical presence in my life, this change brought about a new and welcomed spaciousness of time.

Presence: In quiet moments of solitude, I have been turning to the spaciousness of the present moment. I have been allowing this feeling of spaciousness within me expand, just to see how far it can go, and observing what the experience of it is for me. The intensity of this experience is subtle. In the simplicity of observing the present moment, noting what thoughts come and go, hearing the flies buzzing by and the soft clucking of the chickens, feeling the warm breezes on my skin, and observing my own breath… there is a prevailing fresh quality of resting in Presence. I still don’t know the answer to that question or how far this can go yet, because there is no end to the in-the-moment experience of this. In other words, each moment of feeling spaciousness is a new moment - I feel it expansively and freshly. The experience of this for me is of open possibility, and a quiet peaceful serenity. Though occasionally disturbing thoughts surface in the present moment of observing, I am becoming practiced in just allowing these troubling thoughts dissolve. When I realize turmoil, and then become less absorbed within it, I feel a humbling compassion toward myself. This is fertile ground for love.

Of late, when lingering in a sort of pause mode, I have begun to be more aware of this interior spaciousness – of an emptiness within me. This emptiness is not incompleteness, no – not at all. This emptiness implies possibility, a place of receptivity, of room for something huge. In this space there is no finiteness of capacity, no walls to confine, no social constraints to limit. This kind of space is freedom, freedom from confinement, from preoccupation, from oppression, from drivenness, and from all the other interior and exterior forces that tend to bind and restrict my spirit. This space gives me elbowroom for my passions. The passion I notice most is love. I am reminded of this: “Make your home in me as I make mine in you.” (John 15:4) To the extent that I find this grace filled space within me, I keep discovering an expanding emptiness in which love makes its home.

Spaciousness is always a beginning, a possibility, a potential, and a capacity for new awareness. If I can bear the truth of how things are, and actively seek the truth, not just what is comfortable, I eventually find myself in the midst of a peaceful Presence.

A friend suggested that to the extent we make our own spaciousness holy, and intend it for love, pointing it toward loves source, this space responds. In my experience, our increasing availability to the truth, to love, happens gradually, gently, and with grace. It happens in keeping with our unique personalities – and (smile) I seem to have a penchant for love. My heart opens widely in response. We seem to be given what we need as we need it – this space opens before us at precise increments. Space becomes brutal when we try to force it, make it a project, or demand that it meets our expectations.

It is a blessing that love is relentless. Love waits for us to make space for it in our lives. When I step out, risk myself in love, let this love exude from my wholeness, I find an ever deepening capacity within me for this spaciousness of love.


Larry said...

Re "a prevailing fresh quality of resting in Presence": you hit the nail on the head this time, Meredith. It is a very simple matter: when we make ourselves present, God is there. We miss the presence when we occupy ourselves with the thousand things that make up our busy lives.

Since we retired, with three children long gone, life has been much fuller for us. Lacking routine necessities is a wonderful privilege and gift; now it's much easier to enjoy the Presence. Praise God.

Twyla said...

Lovely. Just reading this caused me to notice my shallow breath, my hunched shoulders. The constriction. Thank you for these thoughts on spaciousness. So often your posts are like the gentle light and fragrance of scented candles...they slow me down and remind me to just be.

isaiah said...

What inspiring observations and musings you have shared here. I especially like how you equate your emptiness with possibilities- the two are so intrinsically linked.

Beautiful thoughts M- thanks for sharing.

Meredith said...


Increasingly, I'm finding that to be so true - the preoccupations are causing us to miss true Presence - right in front of and within us at each moment. Isaiah posted a beautiful little quote from poet Hafiz (Love Poems from God) once that speaks to this very notion:

"Just sit there right now. Don't do a thing. Just rest. For your separation from God is the hardest work in the world."

Thank you once again, dear Friend, for your kind words. Funny, I feel that same gentle light and soft fragrance from your writing. Perhaps we are mirrors for one another.

That emptiness filled with possibilities is crafted in these beautiful lines from the Tao Te Ching:

It is not the clay the potter throws,
which gives the pot its usefulness,
but the space within the shape,
from which the pot is made.

So often you give me this same gift - the feeling of open receptivness, which is a beautiful gift. Thank you!

cdog said...

what you wrote about spaciousness takes me down to my cottonwood grove, which is a place of rest and inspiration for me.

This morning I was there just as the sunlight was touching the leaves at the tops of the trees. I went under the branches of the maple, and stood listening to the sound of the stream running beneath the bridge - green around me, the yellow summer goldenrods nearby.

I then walked along the fox path, that now goes through the ash grey willows - my dogs get through easily - being fox size. The willow branches hit my face and touch my shoulders as I go through. I take in the scent, and that of the morning.

Unbounded heights and possiblity exist for me, down there at the start of day - spaciousness, as you described. I have walked down there for thirty years. God willing I will continue to do so for thirty more.

Meredith said...

Thank you for taking me down to your cottonwood grove
where the sunlight touched the leaves at the tops of the trees.

Under the branches of the maple,
where you listened to the sound of the stream
running beneath the bridge –
green encircling nearby
yellow summer goldenrods.

When you walked along the fox path,
that now goes through the ash grey willows –
where the fox sized dogs slip through easily.
beware the willow branches
as you take in the scent of the morning.

Unbounded heights and possibility exist
in the cottonwood grove at the start of day –
spaciousness of time, of wonder, of delightful unfolding.

Thank you, Cdog, thank you.

Anonymous said...

This exchange is an example of how the lightness of love moves in the world: the spaciousness of one touching the spaciousness, the same openness, in another. The human heart responds, It responds. This is beauty.
Thank you Meredith.

Jon said...

There is serendipity afoot. I read your post (and Rick's) today, both beautifully explicating the wonder of emptiness in your two unique ways, and both which reminded me of how much I need the beauty of emptyness (spaciousness, white space) in my own life.

Thanks, Meredith

Anonymous said...

This was very apropos...I was up at the South fork of the McKenzie in the Three Sisters Watershed last Sunday and had a wondrous time doing nothing. Walking the high road along the river bank, sunlight streaming through trees covered in thick damp lichen and moss. Occasionally a break in the forest to a steep bank of ground cover warmed by the sun creating it's own warm current of rich scents wafting up onto the road where I stood motionless just taking it in. The sparkling current down below rushing through rock singing on the wind offering its beauty and song to any conscious presence there to rejoice in it. It was a glorious now infinitely better to be in than defining.

Nature is a key to consciousness and a true gift to the receptive ones like those that grace this blog.


garnet said...

Yes, you do indeed have a "penchant for love" and you share it generously.

This is one of the best spiritual posts I've ever read.

Spacious emptiness is love's font.

Meredith said...

Dear Sam,
How wonderful for you to stop by! What a lovely description of your day up in the watershed area. Within your description, even in the silent spaces between the words, is that essence of spaciousness, of being conscious of presence, honoring presence, and of experiencing each moment as “a glorious now.” Each moment is perceived with such richness – particularly when we are awake. And as you say, so much better to be in than to describe. Yet, I am letting your description linger like a little gift.

Thank you Sam.

Meredith said...

You are an amazing poet. And look at the gem you dropped here:

Spacious emptiness is love's font.

Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

michael said...

beautiful... first time blogger here... please forgive uncertainty and lack of protocol

Marta said...

Meridith - I'm moved by your musings on spaciousness and would like permission to quote you in a book I'm writing about transformation. Will you let me know how you feel about this?

Meredith said...

I feel very humbled by your request. Certainly, you may share these musings in your book. Let me know of this book when you get it published, OK?

Best wishes,

Marta said...

Ah Meridith - Thanks so much for your permission. May I use your last name, and is there anything else you'd like me say in describing you? The book is a slow process, but I'll definitely let you know when it's published. - Martha

Me said...

this is beautiful! I linked to this on my blog: because it is so lovely. thank you! :)

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mg95762 said...

Spaciousness has been an important topic for me as a recovering addict. I have grown to understand the importance of wanting to cherish each moment, in spite of how wide and scary some moments can be, instead of hiding under the rock of my addiction.

Paul said...

Hi, I'm interested in peak states of consciousness. This site actually defines a peak state of 'spaciousness'.