Recently I was browsing at our local second-hand bookshop and came across a small paperback by Anne Morrow Lindberg, called Gift from the Sea. The Lindberg name attracted me, and, yes, Anne was the wife of Charles Lindberg.* The book is a series of profound meditations on different seashells that Anne found on her retreats at the beach, often in a favourite island setting. Towards the end of the book, Anne reflects on her tendency on retreat to initially collect as many shells as possible, but then, as time goes by, she becomes more selective. She notices that one or two shells, surrounded by empty space, speak to her more deeply about their beauty and uniqueness than many shells clustered together. Similarly, she reflects, the retreat touches her so deeply because she has few activities, few demands, and lots of empty space. She goes on to say:
Only in space are events and objects and people unique and significant – and therefore beautiful. A tree has significance if one sees it against the empty face of sky. A note in music gains significance from the silences on either side. A candle flowers in the space of night. Even small and casual things take on significance if they are washed in space, like a few autumn grasses in the corner of [a Japanese ink] painting, the rest of the page bare.
This week is Holy Week. It is filled with significance for Christians, and it can be a very busy and cluttered time for churches and families. But may we find empty space to sit with the uniqueness and beauty of this time, both for ourselves, the world, and for all creation.
May God, who seeks to bless us and the world through Jesus, bless you this Holy Week.
* Charles and Anne were both pioneer aviators, Charles famously flying the first solo trans-Atlantic flight in the Spirit of St Louis. Tragically, in 1932, their first child was mysteriously kidnapped and murdered.
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