“It has been said that it’s the space between the bars that holds the tiger. And it’s the silence between the notes that makes the music. It is out of the silence, or “the gap,” or that space between our thoughts, that everything is created including our own bliss.” -Wayne Dyer
White space is the most underrated tool that any artist or creative has in their toolbox. While this term originates in design, white space is a human principle that has relevancy in nearly every area of our lives.
- In design, we call it negative space.
- In music, we call it a rest.
- In our spiritual lives, we call it solitude, stillness, or fasting.
- In our weeks, we call it Sabbath.
- In conversation, we call it listening.
- In the Psalms, it has a literal name: Selah.
As the quote from Dyer (above) gets at, it is the very absence of the thing (noise, movement, visuals) that adds emphasis and invokes the imagination. Our brains automatically put emphasis and importance on design elements that are surrounded by white space because white space is a visual clue about where we should be looking. White space provides a buffer around the important elements so that our brains can quickly process it. Once our brains process, our imaginations are free to play, and our minds can imprint meaning onto what we see/hear/experience.
Another way to say this is that white space is an invitation.
This relates to our lives with God as well. Mother Teresa said, “We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
How can we hear God when we spend all of our time talking at Him?
How can we invite God in when we don’t create white space for Him?
Maybe if we spent more time listening, more time resting, more time in solitude, more time being still. Maybe then we could hear the gentle whisper in the stillness of our faithful God, inviting us to rest in Him, to listen to Him, to be with Him, to abide in Him.