space on the shelf

*This is a re-post from almost a year ago. But in reading through the thoughts gathered in the #bloginstead experiment started by Melinda Johnson, they seemed pertinent. I would add a few things now if I were re-writing it, but I will leave it alone for the moment.

Like many folks, I have spent the better part of my life trying to figure out exactly where I fit in the big picture. I dearly want to have a positive impact on my family and community but have often felt that my efforts were insignificant at best and even futile on my bad days.

As I have just ended my fifth decade I am becoming more deliberate in my interactions with myself and others. I have found over and over again that when I act in ways contrary to who I really am I am not only hurting myself, I actually have the possibility of damaging those closest to me. Nobody wants to be the recipient of someone “helping” them out of a sheer sense of duty. True giving should liberate both the giver and the receiver. That is not to say that giving or helping is always easy, but love MUST be the impetus and unless we are in the process of recovering our own inner health we are in danger of acting from compulsion rather than compassion.

I will likely never start a world movement or political campaign. But I very much desire to love and connect with the folks in my community in transformative and healing ways. In the beautiful book Birds, Art, Life, by Kyo Maclear, the author recounts a conversation she had with the musician who inspired her love of birds. Upon asking him what his aspirations were in terms of leaving behind a musical legacy he offered a most profound response.

He likened influential people and their bodies of work to books on a bookshelf. Some people require shelves and shelves of space for their lives while others might just have one or two books. His desire, he said honestly, was just to have a small place on a shelf.

And that seems just about right to me.

12 thoughts on “space on the shelf”

  1. Emmie, we have no idea what impact our lives will have on others as we walk through life. Most of us will have “a small place on a shelf” but we may have been privileged to have influenced someone else who will have a large space. We are called to “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [y]our God.” God will look after the rest. Blessings.


    1. Hi friend! So good to see you here. And as always, your words are so encouraging. I am learning to just take small steps and trust God with the rest. I forget, but life is so much more serene when I remember:) Thank you for being here.


    1. Catherine, thank you so much for your kind words! I love that idea too of each having a little space created for us. And think of all the neighbors we have as well with their own spaces and work:) It’s a fun analogy to play with.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is definitely where I am…trying to be a good person, even when I don’t feel like it. I want to be around people and want them to be around me


    1. Your kindness shows through in your writing and how you notice all of the beautiful small details of your family’s life. It is very inspiring.


  3. This is lovely. Have you read Middlemarch? I think of this famous quote from the book: “But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”


    1. What a gorgeous quote. And I just found a kindle version for .99 cents and bought it. The only problem with this blog revolution is that my book list keeps growing, lol. I will enjoy reading Middlemarch very much I know. I loved reading George Eliot in college.


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