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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Festival: Physical Space

Here's a post from one of our newer ring members, Derek Maul, asking us to look at the relationship between our physical space and our spiritual lives. Derek blogs at Derek Maul: A Life Examined.

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:5-8)

Physical space has become an important element of the way that I work. It's not that I can't write anywhere, any time - it's more that my writing so often pours out of my spirit... and my spirit is profoundly affected by my surroundings.

This fact raises some interesting questions as to where we live. By "we" I mean the sense of self that is identified as "Derek" or "Rebekah" or "Andrew" or "Naomi"....  We often tend to spiritualize - or intellectualize - the idea of self to the point that it becomes regarded as "other". We make such a marked distinction between "self" and "body" as if the physical realm were a throw-away concept unrelated to who we actually are.

Stay with me. I'm thinking out loud! I don't edit these blog entries to make sense; I don't go back to purge posts of non-sequiters or controversy or confused and garbled thinking. This is like my end of a conversation. Conversations evolve. I'm not really sure where I'm going with this at this point!

I do more than simply live in this body and on this planet - the physical realm is a real part of who I am. My spirit does not live independently from flesh and blood, my spirit lives interdependently. I'm not sure what life beyond death is going to look like, but I am convinced that it will be more than a disembodied, ethereal consciousness.

But I digress. Back to the beginnings of today's post. When I was a schoolteacher I worked hard to design a physical environment in my classroom that was conducive to learning. Physical space is a key element of education. I also noted that behavior (my specialty) can be impacted by and interactive with environment.

Likewise, I've discovered that my study (not my office, it's a study) influences my work. Books on the shelves, clear surfaces to work on, a Bible where I can see it, my leather chair to think in, family pictures, my guitar on a stand, a great Bose sound system...

When I need to I can play my guitar, or settle into my reading nook. It's a conducive environment for prayer, for contemplation, for Bible-study - all the elements that need to be in place before I can even begin to write.

I guess where I'm going with this today is how important it is that each one of us learn to cultivate a proactive awareness when it comes to our environment. Why place ourselves in the middle of constant television noise or video games or unsavory venues, and then complain that we're not growing, spiritually? Why have the car radio blaring on the way to work when we could be spending time in meditation? Why keep a huge television in the bedroom and wonder why we never have meaningful conversations with our spouse?

What might happen if we redesigned our homes, and our workspaces, and our preferences to reflect our need to satisfy spiritual hunger, and to address the importance of relating more openly with our family?

Good questions to think about - DEREK


  1. Thanks for the encouragement! I really enjoy the RevGalPals space. It's a great venue to peel back the layers and witness how we all tick...
    Peace - and erudition - to all.

  2. Thanks for this post - very timely for me.

    I am also realizing that the physical space we live and work in is a reflection of how we are actually this disaster zone is telling me we are out of balance.


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