Laura G. Hancock
The Space Between
If I’m honest, when I first read today’s collection of Scripture, I felt pretty overwhelmed. There are so many stark contrasts, such as choosing between “fire and water,” life and death,” and “good and evil” (Sirach 15). There are words with the connotation of perfection, such as the need to seek God with all my heart and exactly observe the commandments (Psalm 119). Even Jesus seems to intensify the language of the law throughout the Gospel passage. How could this be? Could I ever do this right? Could I ever be good enough? Why did Jesus make the law harder to follow? I thought Jesus came to bring us freedom, not heightened legalism. But here, in today’s Gospel, Jesus said that our righteousness needs to surpass that of those who are trained and formed in the ways of holiness, those who have many structures and supports to uphold their lives of holiness (Matthew 5). I don’t stand a chance. My life feels way messier than that.
So, I said to Jesus in my prayer, “Jesus, this feels like an impossible (t)ask. Why are you asking this of us? Of me?”
I continued to breathe and pray through the Scriptures. And slowly, the space between - and beneath - the binaries began to emerge. Yes, we are instructed to choose between life and death, good and evil and we are invited to consider the “immense wisdom of the Lord” (Sirach), God’s wisdom that is both mysterious and hidden (1 Cor. 2), and the revelation of the Spirit who, “scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God” (Ibid, emphasis added).
Once I became aware of the depths of God, I found myself in the space between, the space that is larger, that has more breadth and more depth than a simple binary of “this or that.” Right or wrong. Life or death. Good or evil. In this Spirit-filled space between, I notice that, while sometimes the choices in my life are as simple as a “this or that,” very often, they are not. Very often, the choices in my life are much more complex, much more nuanced, and yes, even much more messy, than a simple “this or that.”
So now when I consider the Gospel passage, it seems to me that Jesus is directing us towards the depths of God. He is asking us not to simply follow the rules, not to simply take things at face value, but rather to search our own hearts. To connect with the Spirit who welcomes us into the very depths of God. We are invited to look for the space between the choices. To discover what is needed interiorally before making an outward choice. We are seeking a resonance between our inner experience and our outward behavior. In other words, I feel like Jesus is inviting us into a life of discernment, a life with more wholeness than superficial, quick-thinking action, and into a life with intention, depth, and clarity. If I live into Jesus’ seemingly impossible (t)ask, I can live with the assurance and indeed the freedom that my ‘yes’ means yes and my ‘no’ means no. Do you have that freedom today?
Laura knows that to experience the presence and wisdom of one’s soul will expand our ability to love, transform our own lives, and create a more whole society. Learn more at www.SoulcareMKE.com.