The sanctuary is nearly empty, quiet but for the faint leaving-noises that filter in as the last people head home.  It is a warm space here in the quiet, lights low and the air seems heavier than usual, a good heavy…like a soft warm blanket around my shoulders. We are watching Eldest and his friends go through a song set on the stage. They are practicing today, the first time with a new mentor–a seasoned worship leader who has agreed to work with them once a month or so.  I can see, in the first minutes of the practice, how this will transform them…there is a spark beginning as they start to work on Phil Wickham’s Divine Romance.  Hubby, who has worked these two years with the group, leans forward in his chair and I feel his excitement grow as first the drums, then bass and rhythm guitar find their places.  A new beat changes the song, slows it, and in the spaces where the rests are there is suddenly something else…a grace, a passion.  If nature abhors a vacuum, then music abhors a wasted pause.  Without Spirit, it is only empty space…but cum spiritus the spaces take on life of their own, are more full than the notes themselves.

I see Eldest, working quietly as the others get a feel for the new rhythm.  With some encouragement, he stands and plays aloud what has been forming in his mind and through his hands…and I understand what George Harrison meant when he wrote “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.  A high, plaintive call draws from the strings, then a pause that fills so full that you can’t help but draw in a breath to feel it in your lungs, and behind that follows a low response leading into another insistent note.  The notes weave together into the pulse of the drums and the throb of the bass, the steady thrum of rhythm guitar.  They soar and dip and there’s a depth, a bittersweet longing that fills the air.  Hubby takes my hand and we know we’ve seen something happen here, that this is one of those moments of grace that transforms a person and leaves them new, different.  God is glorified in the pauses, when He is allowed to fill them.

And I am suddenly taken back, back to when Eldest was small, when his little hand fit inside mine and I carried him in my arms.  It is more than I can comprehend that this man-child, who stands there coming into his own before my eyes, was so short a time ago the little boy who ran barefoot through the warm grass, in cut-off overalls and no shirt; the warm sun wrapping a golden halo around little boy big brown eyes, rosy toddler cheeks, dimpled tiny hands wrapped tight round my finger.  The same hands that  now pull his own form of worship out of guitar strings, the same hands.  I wonder where the time went, I wonder where the time will take him.  I am excited and I am heartbroken to see him growing so, the double-edged sword that pierces every mother’s heart.

For the moment, there is only now.  There is only music rising up, there is only grace in the empty spaces.

Writing from where I am…visit LL at Seedlings in Stone for more Mondays
And Laura at The Wellspring….

4 thoughts on “Grace in the Empty Spaces

  • March 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    This is a good piece, miss Roo. I love how you tied it together with the hands and the empty spaces because both depict so many images and feelings.

    I’ll have to find an audio clip of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”…


  • March 22, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I would not trade for the world the joy of having led worship for so many years. The way one is drawn closer through this gift…

    “Cum spiritus the spaces take on life of their own, are more full than the notes themselves.” This reminds me of the silence in heaven spoken of in Revelation.

    “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
    God in as much in the silent pause as in the notes.
    And so is beauty. As a music teacher, I can’t stress this to my students enough!
    Have a great weekend!

  • March 24, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Oh, this brings happy tears. My mamma heart skipped a beat reading this. And I was so excited to see you at Playdates! How are you? I am still listening to my Steel Croswhite cd. So beautiful. And now…another generation of music makers.

  • March 25, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Hi, Laura! Thank you…I am doing well, trying to get back into a new routine with all the changes in the last year. So glad to have found Playdates! And happy that you’re enjoying Steele’s music, there’s a new album out (a live, acoustic worship collection) available at if you’re interested. I haven’t yet figured out how to get music back on the blog but it’s a great one. Blessings to you! And Debra, nice to meet you. I love the reminder about that verse in Revelation…it gave me chills when I read your post. Thank you! Darlene…did you find it? We’re Beatles fans around here (the early stuff, anyway).


Leave a Reply