Seeing Space

Looking up into the canopy of a London Plane tree.
Looking up into the canopy of a London Plane tree.

Does your life feel so full of ‘things that need to be done’ that there is just no time or space to do them all – let alone find a little time for yourself and for the things that are less pressing but often more valuable?

My life certainly does.

Last week I took part in an urban prayer walk, organised by St. Paul’s Learning and led by Brian Draper.

At the start of the walk Brian led us to a group of London Plane trees, whose trunks and arching branches he likened to the columns and vaulted ceilings of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the destination for our walk.

Brian encouraged us to look up into the canopy – but to look not at the branches and twigs and leaves, but for the spaces between them.

And this I did – gazing up at the gaps where the sky could be seen …

Yet after gazing upwards for just a short while it was no longer these little gaps that I was aware of.

It was the much greater space enclosed and held by the branches.

Not small two-dimensional areas of sky but large three-dimensional volumes of space – wide and long and high and deep.

Space that was there all along – ‘hidden’ and unnoticed between the overlapping layers that had made the tree seem so crowded.

There was so much more space in that tree than appeared at first glance. 

And as with the tree, so with my life.

There is so much more space in my life than appears at first glance.

Space within the busyness, enclosed by the busyness, held by the busyness …

Space before me, space behind me, space beneath me, space above me …

Space that is wide and long and high and deep …

If only I would stop focusing on all the things that seem to crowd my life …

Stop searching, even, for gaps between all these things that I ‘have’ to do …

And simply stop …

and become aware …

of all the space …

that is there.

St. Paul’s Learning
Brian Draper

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