The Spirit Speaks through a Typo

A friend of mine likes to think of boundaries and margins as a coastline: not rigid, always shifting and changing.

For a person who writes about Sabbath, I have not done a good job stewarding my time and my psyche lately.

I knew it would be this way this month. July always kicks my butt. July is daily swim team practice and twice-weekly swim meets and this year, swim lessons for the younger two. July is dripping bathing suits hung on doorknobs and towels draped over every open door in our house. Meanwhile there is a week of drama camp, a church retreat, and two different speaking engagements for which I am preparing. It’s good stuff, all of it, but it converges in July.

August is ordinary time—work and play. August, there’s nothing unusual except a short visit with a friend and her son. August is 31 days of puttering. August is a deep breath of air so hot and humid that it makes you feel desperately and wondrously alive.

But gah. July.

I’ve been reaching out to friends, who help me find solid ground to stand on during such times. One of these friends wrote to me last week, urging me to leave space in the margins of my life so that I can absorb the unexpected and find time to rest.

Only she typed it wrong, in that way that many of us do when we hear the words reverberate in our heads and transcribe them incorrectly.

She wrote, “You need to live room in the margins of your life.”

Not leave room. Live room.

Not since I heard a preacher misspeak the phrase “love is stronger than death” by saying “love is stranger than death” have I been so captivated by a misspeaking.

I need to live room in the margins of my life.

Live room. I almost know what it means, and then I lose my grasp on it.

I think it’s that you bring the same intention to saying no as saying yes. That rest is as important a pursuit as work and play. That the margin is where the interesting stuff happens. The seminary buzzword for that is liminal space.

Patty Digh writes in Life is a Verb:

A friend told me I reminded her of a trapeze artist, flinging myself out into the universe. That moment of release before catching the new bar is called transition. Perhaps it is the only place that real change happens. As humanitarian Danaan Parry said, “I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a ‘no-thing,’ a no-place between places. I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid where the real change, the real growth occurs for us.”

Live the margins.

That’s what I learned about Sabbath, by the by. Sabbath isn’t the thing you do once a week that lets you live more productively the other six days. Sabbath itself is life, experienced wholeheartedly. It’s the space beyond have-to.

I’d almost forgotten that—curse you, July—but a typo helped me remember it.

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