lenten journal: blank


I started a new train book on the way to work this morning: Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi. The book, as the title suggests, uses cartography as an extended metaphor for writing. As the train worked its way to New Haven this morning, Turchi was talking about the importance of blank spaces in maps, and then he moved back to talking about writing.

Even after we mark the page, there are blanks beyond the borders of what we create, and blanks within what we create. Maps are defined by what they include but often more revealing by what they exclude. (29)

The gospel accounts are full of blanks, full of space between the things they map out in Jesus’s life. Even when we look at their recounting of the crucifixion, we can read them aloud in a manner of minutes. What happened while Jesus was on the cross is left blank, except for what we named the Seven Last Words—a map of our own, I suppose. And then the map from Friday to Sunday is nothing but blank.

I worked all day today in New Haven, rode the train home, and then walked to meet Ginger for dinner as she was finishing up with the Good Friday service at our church. The dark walk through our town was my own blank space to fill, and it reminded me of an old poem of mine I rediscovered the other day that speaks of space, of blanks. It was inspired by a favorite book, Anne Tyler’s Saint Maybe.

empty chair

what is
the difference
open space
and emptiness?
and opportunity?
and belief?

in one of
my favorite stories,
Ian had a chair
in the shape
of a hand
an open hand
a tender hand
God’s hand
to hold him

I drive by
furniture stores
yard sales
hoping to see
any chair
that might
offer me the
same invitation

Even in these uncharted days, we are held out to love.



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