Border Spaces
a prayer poem


The edges of life create fertile opportunities for growth. As this truth began to settle into my soul, I took a walk in the woods close to my home, the Amsterdamsebos. As I contemplated the manmade borders and the rich soggy soil which they kept in place, some spiritual truths surfaced for me. This poem found its expression as a prayer of surrender. For the context, read my corresponding blog post below.

Border Spaces

Today I accept the invitation
To embrace the border spaces
Wander disconcerting places
For the growth of my soul

I choose to linger in this fertile ground
Explore the questions, hold the mystery
And wait. Senses engaged
As I resist the impulse to flee

I will tread the marsh of ambiguity
And squeeze the muck of uncertainty through my toes
Until mystery becomes familiar, even soothing
And the cool of its touch feels warm around my feet

Today I will open my eyes to the ground I tread
Aware of the cycle of life which has nourished it
Open my ears to the sounds of the air
Delight in the symphony sung for she who listens
Learn from the trees as they sing in the wind
Feel the Wind's touch on my skin, on my spirit
Savour
Receive
And sing

Elizabeth de Smaele
October 2010

Border Spaces Blog Post

The past few weeks have held some rather deep journeying and it's taken some time for my experience to settle before I was ready to give it expression.

I'm following a course on nurturing the contemplative and creative spirit, and it's stirring a whole lot in me. I've been challenged to embrace the 'fertile border spaces' of my life which, to quote the teacher of the course, are "those places and experiences that do not offer me easy answers, those fierce edges of life where things are not as clear-cut as I hope for them to be. There is beauty in the border spaces, those places of ambiguity and mystery." (Christine Valters Paintner)

I am a strong 'J' (judging) accoring to Myers-Briggs typology, which means I'm one who loves to have clarity and is uncomfortable with ambiguity. But God is challenging me to press into ambiguity and to be alert to the lessons it has to offer me. This is by no means comfortable but it is oh so valuable for my growth!

The woods near my house has offered a rich environment for contemplation about border spaces. The Amsterdamsebos extends about 8 kilometers south of Amsterdam. It was built 80 years ago by hand, and is crisscrossed with walking paths, bike paths and riding paths, is filled with lagoons and playing fields and picnic areas, quite a marvel of vision and architecture. It is one of the delights in living where I do, and it draws me often to jog and to walk.

fertile-border On a recent walk I paid attention to its border areas. The woods has a wild feel to it since fallen trees are left to rot and fallen leaves have created rich humus on the damp ground. I thought of the life cycles of endless life, death and decay which have made the soil rich, and I walked the soggy borders around the lagoons which are supported by sunken wooden posts. And I thought of my life and the deep tiredness I have been experiencing, as well as the aging and frailty of family members which reminds me of my own frailty.

mirrored-lagoon My woods invites me to embrace this border space. It asks me the question: Will I embrace the uncertainty as places of potential, committing to live in the uncertainty instead of seeking clarity and order and solutions?

If fertile border spaces are "places of intense vitality", and if a commitment to live in them "opens us up to a life that is vital and intense" (words from Christine which ring very true with my heart) then I sure want to embrace this invitation.

I can't help thinking about the title of a book I've been meaning to buy, Calvin Miller's memoirs Life is Mostly Edges. If you've read it I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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Poetry and Prayers
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Spiritual Refreshment

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