[Not to read; just to look at:]


Little white space



Some white space


More white space

Outside, the wind roars.

Inside, its tendrils invade, waft over floorboards.

I cozy up under fuzzy fleece, tuck in my feet, and review my year’s blog posts and journals.

In minutes, I read:

What do you do when the creative (or spiritual) well runs dry? Sometimes I try pumping harder, to stir up novel ideas or holy thoughts. There’s a place for that. But I also have a crying need for “white space” — moments of rest for overloaded brain and soul.

Even devotional time with God needs “white space”: periods of stillness without petition, Bible reading, devotional doing, or simultaneous physical tasks! Just silence in His presence! 

I blogged that, essentially, a year ago. Common sense told me that much — especially when to-do lists (both physical and spiritual) overwhelmed me.

I can busily read through three Bible chapters in twenty minutes or less. No white space. I can give you a pretty good recap of what I read, too. But this alone tends to be like skipping a stone across water. I get to the other side, as planned, but never sink in very deep.

Reading it thoughtfully, prayerfully, repetitively, takes time. And sinking it down into my heart and assimilating it into my life requires slowing, stopping, rereading, pondering, savoring. Time aside from busyness. Silence. White space.

Yet, do we fear silence? Does even ten-second stillness feel “awkward,” seem to require “rescue” by someone talking or singing to fill up the quiet?

We need — I need — time to soak in what’s poured out, be it words read or preached, or the Holy Spirit Himself. It’s too easy to get misled into thinking the world — or even God — can’t get along without the “rescue” of chatter or clatter, when what He wants for us is “Be still, and know that I am God”!

I want to read the Bible-in-a-year again, really. But what good will that do if I don’t give it time to sink in and alter my mind, heart, and life?

Planning time for both Bible read-through and slower, more meditative reading is best, shoving some trivial pursuits aside. But if I can’t do both, spreading my reading over more than a year is better than forfeiting the rich white space I need for assimilating into my soul what comes in through my ears, eyes, and brain.

I am learning the treasures of well-timed silence. May I guard them through the coming year.


Now I walk past the kitchen table. There, at husband’s place, a solitary index card says this:

Ps 37:7a Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him…

Ps 62:5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, For my hope is in Him.

A silent, unknowing “Amen”!

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10 thoughts on “Wisdom Gleaned from Old Journaling: Schedule “White Space”!

  1. Dear Sylvia,

    I came here from Ann’s today, not my usual route to sylrpen, but you posted a bit before me there and it made me smile. I love your post. I never heard the term lection divina, but I have experienced it through http://www.sacredspace.ie, a Jesuit website from Ireland. It is very much what you describe here.

    I loved your pictures depicting differing amounts of white space and your “coincidental” index card. He really walks with you in your home, doesn’t He?

    Bless you,

    1. Hi again Dawn,
      Nice to have you “visiting” again! Yes, God does walk with us here, and it’s very sweet. He blesses us in so many ways, and seeing His hand, His “voice” in “coincidences” like that is one of the big ones.
      I went to that website, and well, I dunno. It feels a bit more new-agey than the Bible reading/praying/applying I/we’ve been doing around here, but I am guessing it has perhaps the same historical roots. The main things for me are 1) mining God’s truth rightly from His scripture, 2) ascertaining His desire, His instruction for me to live out, 3) fellowshiping with Him in prayer and just silence, and 4) drawing on Him for the empowerment to carry out His will faithfully according to His word.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. God bless!

  2. You have no idea how much I needed to read this post tonight…sacred white space….guarding this “treasure” right now…

    1. So glad it refreshed you, Karen. This time of year seems to leave so many of us thirsty like that. Ironic, isn’t it? Praying for some peaceful “white space” for you now and in the new year.

  3. thank you. I’ve been praying and pondering what this next year ought to hold, and this just might be it- emptiness, waiting, stillness.

    1. Hi Kelly,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I just got back from visiting your site, where I read on and on, enjoying it. (Blogspot doesn’t accept my comments, so I have to comment here.)
      Praying for God’s peace and guidance for you as you enter this new year, that He will place some special treasure within what you may see as emptiness lying ahead. The waiting, the stillness, the times that *seem* like emptiness in the wilderness I have found in retrospect to be some of the most deepening and enriching of my life. May 2012 be rich like that for you!

  4. Sylvia,

    EXACTLY what I needed this morning.

    (i would have tried to read the first one,lol, without your instructions…the visual impact-indescribable)

    1. Hi Laurie!
      Thanks. It’s also what *I* need — to remember! Now, for actually deciding how to purposely *schedule in* that “white space”…
      I had to laugh when I read the rest of your comment. Glad I added that little note in brackets at the top! I wondered what people would think — and try to do — if I didn’t put it there. And glad the imagery must have conveyed the idea I wanted. It reminds me, every time I scroll down to the third pic, how much clearer and simpler truth and life can be when there’s enough white space. God bless your healing leg, your life, your new year ahead! 🙂

  5. Sylvia,
    As a former journalism teacher who also taught layout design for yearbooks, I can totally relate to the white space. What a great visual to keep in mind as we take time to sit and listen to what God is saying. (I’m just beginning Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling.”)
    Thanks for the visual that will stick in my mind.

    1. Thanks, Darnly. I’m not sure how I came up with that. Wrote the post, then had to figure out an illustration. Maybe a little divine help?
      I googled, then previewed Sarah Young’s book. Looks good. I think I might get it. It certainly harmonizes with the “white space” thoughts, doesn’t it?
      Glad you came visiting. God bless!

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