Holding Space

I rode past a glorious old church in my neighborhood this morning and was struck with the thought that this building, in all its majesty, is holding a kind of space for the community. I don’t mean this in a religious sense (I’m not religious). I mean that for decades, as the neighborhood around it has changed, this has been a place where people have come to worship and to commune with neighbors, to step outside the workaday world and seek something more spiritual. It has been a place to pause. 

We need more places to pause. When I passed the church, I was in a cab on my way to cafe, where I’m currently writing this. I chose this cafe because it’s next door to my doctor’s office. I need to take a conference call here at 11 before a doctor’s appointment at 11:30 and then I need to remember to buy chickpeas before I head home and work for the rest of the afternoon. Tonight Jordan and I are going to the 92nd Street Y’s beer-and-latkes party and I’ll miss Alison’s bedtime. The babysitter will feed her chickpeas, along with leftover ravioli, and blueberries, because for Ali, no meal is complete without blueberries. I’m sad to miss this time with her at the end of the day, but happy to be going on a date with Jordan, and grateful that I got to spend some extra time playing with Ali this morning before I took her to daycare.

This is a good life, a full life, a balanced life, with a husband and daughter whom I adore, and work I love, in a city I love, and space, when I grab for it, to write. The grabbing is hard. I want a temple for writing, where people worship together weekly, and by “worship,” I mean, create. 

Tomorrow I’ll be in Princeton, NJ, meeting with a client all day, which means getting up at 6am and returning home close to 8pm. It means very little time with my precious little girl. It means sacrificing some sleep, as I did early this morning, when she woke at 5am, crying for me, which she never does. I have always loved to sleep, more than your average bear, but lately, I’m becoming obsessed: Will I get enough sleep tonight? Will I feel rested enough to take on all this life bears for me? Often, the answer is no, and the thing is, this life is just so beautiful, I want to be awake for it.

And so the pattern is the same, these cravings of mine: I want to hold space for art, for rest, in a world that conditions us for constant movement, so much so that even the things we love go by too fast. I want a church where I can go and worship not a God or gods but life itself. A sacred space for holding things sacred. A space for holding, and for being held. 

Meditation creates that space, and so the challenge is to stick with it, to create the habit…to find a church, or temple, where other people are seeking a similar spaciousness, and to hold together: Om.

Photo by MTSOfan on Flickr


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