If you’ve been to London, you’ve heard it; even if you haven’t, you’ve likely heard about it: “Mind the gap!” It’s the iconic public service announcement that travelers on the London Underground subway system – affectionately known as “the tube” – hear when the train stops at the station. It also appears as signage above train doors and on platforms themselves, warning passengers to watch their step as they navigate the space between the train door and the platform.
That’s what I’ve been doing this week: minding the gap.
I wanted to channel my inner Tigger and write that bouncy, joy-overflowing post-Easter post this week. That isn’t where I am. There’s a significant gap between the Resurrection Glory I expected and my reality. “It’s Easter!” I told myself. “You should be happy!!”
Lent and Easter are forever intertwined with the timeline of Bill’s sudden illness and untimely death and those memories are part of the package for me. I rejoice in the Resurrection but it is a pointed reminder of the gap between us. I am human, finite, earthbound; he is eternal, part of that “great cloud of witnesses.” His physical absence still stings.
We don’t, as a culture, care much for gaps. They’re perceived as an indication of lack or deficiency, and for many the first thought when confronted with them is about what we need to do or get in order to fill up the space.
“Minding the gap” is something I struggle with personally as well. I don’t like loose ends, unfinished business, incomplete anything. I like getting there; getting things done. But sometimes there is nothing you can do. Continuing to struggle, in those circumstances, just produces exhaustion and frustration.
Whether we like them or not, gaps are necessary.
Without negative space – gaps, blanks, emptiness, areas where something isn’t – there is no art; it’s named differently, but there are applications of this in every artistic form. It was into that “formless void”, that “soup of nothingness, that bottomless emptiness,” as Eugene Peterson puts it in his modern language translation The Message, that Creation was spoken into being; there was a gap between that last breath on Good Friday and Resurrection on Easter morning.
We all need some measure of personal space as well as slices of time without frenetic, non-stop activity where we can just let things be. Even if it doesn’t appear as though anything is happening, those gaps are the place where – when I quit trying to manufacture them on my own – understanding and wisdom come to term and are birthed.
My son and his family gifted me with the orchid in the photo last Mother’s Day. It bloomed beautifully for two weeks, then did nothing. After nearly a year-long gap, it is blooming again this week.
If the Mother Teresa quote in my planner is accurate - and I have no reason to doubt her - we human creatures live in the gap – that place between what was and what will be – all the glories and miseries of live contained therein. “Yesterday is gone,” she said. “Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
I wasn’t sure, in my post-Easter funk, how to do that but Monday afternoon I saw a story on my Instagram feed: “We have fifty days to practice resurrection. Who’s in?!?” (You can read Tamara’s post about “Practicing Resurrection” here or find her on Instagram @a_sacramental_life).
That gave me hope. If it doesn’t have to be perfect – if all I have to do is practice Resurrection– I think I can do that. I can look for one small thing each day that I am grateful for and offers a glimpse of the Sacred.
The fact that I’m not “feeling it” in no way affects the reality and the power of the Resurrection. Indeed, it is precisely because of the Resurrection that I have grace and space enough to sit in the gap, feeling what I feel, not having to “fix myself up”, and assured that the Holy is present with me.
Are you noticing any gaps in your life? How do you greet and deal with them?
Know that wherever you are, the Holy is there too.