As Spacious as the Heavens


My nephew Rique Ray is an amazing artist.  Only 9 years old, he’s already an expert at Garfields, Charlie Browns, and “Ducks with Dice.”  But this drawing—completed just a couple weeks ago, after apparently a few too many days (months?) at home—captures better than anything else I’ve seen the “space” that so many of us are living in right now.  That sense of being squeezed more and more until our true colors begin to bleed out.  For many the squeeze is physical or financial.  For others its more mental or emotional.  Whatever the source, any more pressure and an eyeball is going to pop.  His mom tags this drawing #lockdownlife.

Which made it all the more intriguing this week, when preparing to preach for January 1—the Solemnity of Mary—to discover that one of the most ancient titles for Jesus’ mother is Platytera ton Ouranon (Πλατυτέρα των Ουρανών). In English: “More Spacious than the Heavens.”  Even though she lived in incredibly “squeezed” circumstances—a Jew under Roman rule, a country mouse far from the city, a teen in what was most likely an arranged marriage—Mary is nevertheless remembered for the space she created within herself.  The space to ask questions (“How can this be since I do not know man?”)  The space to ruminate and seek meaning (“Mary kept all these things reflecting on them in her heart”) And then, of course, the space for God to come and find a home within her very body.  I’ve long admired those who somehow figure out a way to enjoy an internal freedom and “wideness” even in a world determined to constrain them.  Mary is one of those people. 

And so, as we begin 2021, perhaps Mary is the best of companions for our #lockdownlife.  You can hear my preaching on Mary here.  Meanwhile, know I’m wishing you a blessed and spacious New Year in which the only squeezes turn out to be hugs.

(PS - A reminder that there is still space to join the three Thursdays on Living Truth this January through the Mandorla Center, starting January 7th.  Register here.)