My Spacious Place

We have a field in our back yard.  The field has appeared, incidentally, in a lot of posts - but perhaps this will help you to grasp the size of it.  Here's a shot of Madeline halfway between our house and the fence.

It is so picturesque, with the giant weeping willow on the slope.  Don't you just want to be in it?

Fields are magical.  I want to race and cartwheel and lay in them.  I want to plop down and make snow angels smack dab in the middle of them - where the snow is undisturbed. They are the quintessential picture of childhood. Of freedom and romping, frolicking fun.

Fields are a tangible expression of what our souls want:  Room.

Something inside our human selves craves openness - room to breathe, room to be ourselves.

Anne Lamott wrote,

"Patience is when God, or something, makes the now a little roomier."

I love that.  We want our "nows" to feel a little roomier; we want to exhale.

One afternoon when Dan and I were on our honeymoon, we were laying on the beach sunning ourselves like lizards, holding hands, our towels side by side.  Without even turning his head towards me, Dan said, "I feel like this is one of those perfect moments - that if I ever went to war and was huddled in a trench somewhere - or if my life were ever flashing before my eyes - this is what I would see."

That is how I feel about this field.

I've seen my daughter run in this field - my sweet daughter whom I thought, in my most fearful, irrational moments, would not know the joy of running til her ribs hurt.  I see her little mop of blonde hair running around in that wide open space and think, "I will always remember this."

It feels like sacred space.

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One of my favorite passages of scripture is a song in 2 Samuel 22.  (It also appears in Psalm 18, but I like the Samuel one because it's part of the whole story.)  It says,

1 David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said:

   “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; 3 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the hornof my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent people you save me.

 4 “I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. 5 The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 6 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.

 7 “In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. 8 The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because he was angry.

9 Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. 10 He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. 11 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. 12 He made darkness his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.

13 Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth. 14 The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. 15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. 16 The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

 17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. 20 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

The imagery!  I think this is one of the most beautiful pictures of rescue in the whole Bible.   The description in vereses 5 and 6, have you been there?

I have.

Waves, torrents of destruction that are overwhelming.  I've felt like I was drowning before, like breathable air might as well have been as high and unattainable as heaven itself.  I've felt like there were coils around my ankles, winding their way around my legs.  I've felt like I couldn't claw forward an inch, no matter how hard I tried.  I've felt sadness, anger, apathy, sin, and seemingly unbearable circumstances pulling me down, down, down.  I've been dragged to the darkest place.

And in that dark, distressing place, I called out to the Lord.  And He heard me (vs 7).

He heard me.

Then "the foundations of heaven shook because He was angry" - God defends us fiercely, and He is mighty to save.

"Consuming fire came from His mouth; He parted the heavens and came down."  He has command of the night, command of the the lightning, command of the angels, and He comes for us.

He comes for us.

The valleys of the sea were exposed, the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the Lord.  Oh, He parts the seas that overwhelm us! 

And verse 17 is where I weep for the praise of the rescue of God.

"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters...He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me."

He takes hold of me.  He delights in me.  He draws me up to where I can breathe again - He sets me in a spacious place.

I memorized this passage with my cousin, Brooke, when we were in college together.  We sat in the cafeteria one day, reciting our verses to each other and I asked her, thoughtfully, "When you hear 'a spacious place,' what do you think of?"

She thought for a minute and said - "An empty loft.  A really huge one on the top floor with one wall made entirely of windows - and late afternoon light streaming in, so you can see the dust in the air.  No furniture, no nothing.  Just silence.  What about you?"

"A field," I said.  "Alone in the late afternoon, with nothing but grass and sky."

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I'll remember this field forever, and not just because it looks like it came out of a storybook or because I've seen Madeline run in it.  It is my spacious place.