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Leah Perrault: Making space for love in restless world

By 
  • November 20, 2020

Space was not on my mind when I began a dream job at 23, four months pregnant.

I thought the job would be decades away when we decided to try for a first baby. And life happened differently than I planned. I moved into an office and set up the crib, learning about motherhood and work at the same time. Hindsight gradually revealed the significance of the two experiences happening simultaneously.

I was working in administrative ministry, supporting staff delivering programs and meeting with the public to discuss their hopes and their concerns. Very quickly, I discovered that I was serving people with very different ways of seeing the world and the Church — different from each other and different from me. I was also learning that the baby growing inside me had very different ideas than I did about when we should rest and play, or what we should eat. Both my body and my office needed to be places with space for more people than just me.

This past week, we braced for a blizzard that kept us home for days in the middle of a pandemic. Saskatoon has had a provincial election and a delayed municipal election under the shadow of a significant American political drama. Another layer of grief flowed down my cheeks. I have been full to overflowing for months. Shovelling for hours, I dug mostly for more space inside myself.

I am weary from disappointment and preparing for the likelihood that I will not get to hug each of my siblings, nieces and nephews at Christmas. Listening to many polarized voices, I am aching for justice and peace and understanding among neighbours and nations. And each tear that flows out frees up the energy it took to hold it in.

With each of life’s unexpected turns, I discover deeper wells inside myself. The Creator seems to know I will eventually find them. I have explored the well-formed drifts in caverns of healing, the waves of freedom in a season carved out for rest, and been surprised by the space created by love. The pandemic has invited me to see and make space for a restless world — around me and inside me.

All those 14 years ago, my oldest baby showed me that love is what breaks open the space. Each of my pregnancies, I have wondered and marvelled at who is growivng inside, waiting to meet these tiny people who will fill up the space in my heart and my life. I do not agree with them all the time and I do not get to choose who they become. One encounter at a time, they are teaching me how to love the people they actually are.

I want the world to be different than it is right now. It feels like we deserve the sunlight and warmth of July instead of this intense onset of winter. If only difficult conversations could happen in person instead of on Zoom, I might be less prone to misunderstanding. Why did the pandemic follow three years of surviving grief one day at a time for my family? All the resistance weighs me down.

Here, in what is right now, God is holding infinitely more space for me to fall into. It is not out there, somewhere outside me, in circumstances different from these. The space is only a deep breath away, quieting myself into this moment with love.

Curiosity helps me to keep loving people who are different from me. Creativity allows me to dig a new path when snow blocks my way. Silence makes space for what — and who — is before me right now.

So many parts of the world are falling away and being reformed. It feels like eight months of blizzard conditions. But reduced visibility, icy conditions, drifting snow and closed roads will not last forever. Spring will come in its own good time, with no assistance from me.

Mine is the work of making space, allowing this season to stretch me into a new form. When the snow melts and the sun rises hours before I wake, may I be found more flexible than I was before. May I rise to injustice and polarization with merciful grace. And may the space created here birth something beautiful that is wholly other than I could ask for or imagine. Amen.

(Perrault works in Catholic health care in Saskatchewan and writes and speaks about faith. Her website is leahperrault.com)

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