by Jennifer Trom
I keep looking at the dot, that little mark taking up space between be and longing, that has inserted itself into a perfectly fine word. No one asked this little dot to show up in the middle of belonging, yet here it is, taking up space – even more space than some of the letters.
This dot is marking the Space In Between, and this space demands attention.
What does it mean to be between be and longing? Why does this space exist? Can I just skip over it?
Or, what if the space in between is vital to living? What if I think of that little dot as the starting point? What if that little dot represents me, my center, my core, my soul?
(But, I protest, I would prefer a linear process with a respected guidebook to pass through the space in between. I like to consider myself a planner, after all.)
What if embracing the space in between is how I can fully immerse myself into the experience of being human? What if the space in between is where we can both be and long in the midst of discomfort, uncertainty, more questions than answers, where the only thing to do is to simply be, even while longing for things to change?
I felt this discomfort as I stared for two long days at my blank painting surface last spring during the Guild’s Spring Sacred Arts Week. Breathing through the stress of trying to plan a painting, I was encouraged by the faculty to ask questions instead, to reflect on my self, my soul. At the end of the week, I had more than painted; I had explored the space in between and experienced the richness of discovery that time brought to me. And the painting is one of my favorites.
And now, I am in the midst of caring for a loved one who is suddenly, inexplicably, very ill. The worry and the exhaustion that comes with this leads to many, many questions. Is this the beginning of the end of their life? Am I doing enough to advocate for their care? Am I ignoring reality because of what I long for? How do I love them even more if they recover after I’ve imagined their death?
This space in between is rich with thoughts, feelings, memories, and questions. This space touches the be and the longing and influences them both at the same time; past is present and everything in between. There is nothing linear about this space. Marked by a simple dot, the space in between is a whole world in multiple dimensions. Like a drop of water containing thousands of living organisms, this dot, this space in between, is complex.
So, I breathe. I recenter myself in my body, I imagine my self in the dot, dropping into the space in between. As I breathe, I can find peace with the unknowns. As I breathe, I can respond to what is rather than what I wish were true. Here, in the space in between, I can simultaneously be and long. The space in between is full of grace.