Monday, 25 July 2016

Scribbling in the margins

Margins.

The word, dropped in at the tail end of a sermon, made my ears prick up.  Margins.

At first I thought the speaker must mean setting boundaries, creating carefully neat frames around those areas of life so likely to spread into puddles of time.  The quick check of social media that becomes an hour.  The late night reading junk food words.  I envisaged lines of colourful patterns surrounding these things, corralling them into shape.

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As he continued speaking, the image shifted.  He talked about arriving at appointments 15 minutes early, leaving time to be available, gaps for the unknown.  I saw the page of a book, dense black letters in the centre, and white margins around the edge.  That space that we don't really see, and yet it helps to define the story.  If it wasn't there, how cluttered would we find the page?  How difficult to concentrate on the words?


Of course, the margins don't always stay clear.  I still have a copy of my GCSE text, The Merchant of Venice.  Around the edges are hundreds of pencilled notes - explanations, observations, illuminations.  Our English teacher was a sharp but enthusiastic lady, who dug us deep into Shakespeare's words and pulled out treasures of understanding that we never would have found ourselves.  And we carefully wrote them all down - in those handy spaces, the margins.


Or maybe we should leave dry paper and splash into a watery world.  Rivers have margins, those reedy areas which are somewhere between mud and water, where birds shelter their young and small creatures live their secret lives.  They can be inconvenient, those in-between places, in a busy world, but we are gradually realising just how important they are.

By Moni3 - Own work, Public Domain,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3985314


So many images conjured up by a single small word.  The edges and spaces of our lives can define them as much as the middle.  Where are your margins?  And what kind are they?

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