Good Monday morning, everyone!

This morning I am pondering the miracle and godliness of making space. And also, by natural comparison, I am pondering the deadliness of stress. I've been thinking about how the word "stress" comes to us from the Latin word "strictus", which means "a violent compression." That sort of compression (whether it is physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, psychic) brings us nothing but despair, as it crushes out all the space we need for the good and big things in our world (compassion, delight, awe, hope, creativity, forgiveness, patience, love).

These days (especially Mondays!) I try to keep reminding myself to push back against that sense of compression whenever and wherever it arises. Yes, the modern world is a stress-generating machine, but we cannot just give into it. We can (and must) take accountability for fighting back against the forces of compression and against our own restrictions. We can mindfully keep looking for more space in ourselves, and we can stubbornly insist on making more space for others, too — recognizing how heroically difficult it is at times (for everyone) to be a person on this planet, trapped inside an insane and confusing human brain. I am trying harder than ever not to constrict other people upon my own vise grip (or should I say, VICE grip?) of judgment and contempt, even as I try to keep clearing room in my own heart to forgive my own moronic and narrow shortcomings.

I had an experience recently of consciously making space for someone whom I'd been struggling with, rather than trapping both of us in a oxygen-depleting constriction chamber of negativity and old resentments. Instead of assigning blame, I just tried to build the biggest possible space in my heart for my friend, as we slowly worked our way through conversation back to each other. And then I got to watch as love rushed in to all that clean and open space, followed by peace and forgiveness.

I remember a monk in India teaching me that "tolerance" does not mean passively sitting back and letting people walk all over us; rather, tolerance is a muscular and powerful spiritual practice that involves clearing as much space as we possibly can in our hearts and minds for other people's fundamental goodness to find room to breathe and grow.

So…space, space, space. Make more space, people. That's my aspiration of the week‚ anyhow — and, I guess, of my life. Make more space, resist the compression, raise the ceilings, open the windows, get out from under the weights you have placed on your own head. God is always bigger than we remember, and God is always trying to get in. Make room.

I wish you all a beautiful Monday,

xo LIZ

ps — The lovely painting of the sacred bull floating through space is by the very talented Caitlin Hurd.

via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall