Our guest writer today is Carrie Newcomer – songwriter, recording artist, poet, performer, and activist. She has nineteen nationally released recordings, two books of poetry and essays, earned an Emmy for her PBS special An Evening with Carrie Newcomer, and is the recipient of the 2019 Shalem Institute’s Contemplative Voices Award. Carrie has joined Parker J. Palmer on The Growing Edge podcast and is on the edge of releasing her next album, Until Now, and a collection of original poetry. Keep watching this space for release announcements.
Mind the Gap
I remember the first time I stepped onto the London Underground and heard the sound of an automated voice saying “Mind the gap.” This phrase was to encourage people getting on or off the subway to pay attention to the little space between the subway door and the station platform. I found the phrase interesting. In the states, we might say, “watch your step” which focuses on ourselves and where we are putting our feet. But this phrase was an encouragement to pay more attention to the open space, the small empty threshold between two locations. I think of this experience whenever I am living in a transition or negotiating a process that can only happen with time. Sometimes that open space can look suspiciously like a hole or remind us of loneliness. But if I “mind” the gap, I usually discover that what looked like a hole, is actually only an open space –a space that has been waiting for me to step into it and just “be” with what can only happen in the quiet times of transition or process.
Between the place we are and the place we are going is an open space – these are the spaces between physical locations, between one vocation and the next, between an old habit and a new a way of being, understanding or seeing. It is easy to fill our days, appointment books and chattering mind to the brim. And yet, it is when I pay attention to the open spaces between where I am and where I’m going, I have a chance to clear out my cluttered mind and spirit and tap into a deeper sense of Knowing, sense what has been waiting for my quiet attention. The space is not a hole, it is only a space – and one that is still full of an open kind of wonder and a deeper presence.
I have a part of myself that wants to “get on with it” to step from one growing edge to the next without some of the “in-between” work that might feel risky or uncomfortable. And yet, it is in those quiet times, when I am walking daily with awareness and compassion about “where I am” instead of pushing forward to “where I think I want to be” that the tiny quietly seismic changes and deeper Knowing are possible.
(This reflection is re-printed with permission of the author)