It's Roomy, Come on In

Mar 18 / Terri Conlin

It’s Roomy, Come on In

by Terri Conlin


That’s how I told her I felt, not a little more room but wide-open space. As soon as I said it aloud, I knew spaciousness was where I had been headed for quite some time. Where I longed to be inside and outside.

Roominess was a delightful surprise. It captured a particular moment and was the curve of a long journey into a spacious place. Looking back, I recognize many doorways inviting me into roominess. Years ago, in the middle of a miscarriage, I discovered the goodness of God to be bigger and more secure than my circumstances seemed to suggest.

Then, I discovered fresh friends who continue to heal my heart for friendship. I returned to school to attend seminary, something I had wanted for a very long time, and whole worlds opened in and around me. Mike and I had plans coming together to move to a little square of rural property on a winding road where we could hear owls in the old trees.

That feeling of roominess also arrived recently on a flight to Texas. Airplanes are usually one place I feel particularly closed in, so feeling roomy in an enclosed space was a feeling to follow. On the approach to Austin, I glimpsed the horizon pink and rounded. It was a revelation to hear this arrive in my heart’s ear, I feel the curve of our earth when I’m in Texas.

Texas has been a place of homecoming and heartbreak, a place I leave and keep coming back to, a place I feel tough and tender in wild swings. I have driven to far West Texas and felt the dust and expanse of sky like an ear-to-ear grin spreading slowly across a face I love. I feel kindred to Christian Wiman’s description of that kind of breadth of space in his soul,

 . . . in a flat little sandblasted town in West Texas: pumpjacks and pickup trucks, cotton-like grounded clouds, a dying strip, a lively dump, and above it all a huge blue and boundless void I never really noticed until I left, when it began to expand alarmingly inside of me.


I recognized it again recently when I heard Anne Lamott speak in a high school auditorium. She is salty and funny which I wholeheartedly expected. But then, she said something about being bigger, juicier, and more tender, and my heart took a bigger shape.

Lamott writes,

Imagining God can be so different from wishful thinking if your spiritual experiences change your behavior over time.

Have you become more generous, which is ultimate healing? Or more patient which is a close second? Did your world become bigger, juicier, and more tender? Have you become ever so slightly kinder to yourself?

I have taken these questions as my own, noticing when they grow in me or in those I sit with in spiritual direction.


Each question reveals hints of growth and requires its attention to deepen trust in the slow work of God. And if I can answer yes ever so slightly to any of them, it has usually come by savoring joy or near a cracked place in my life where I have finally stopped rushing past. When I paused long enough to let God’s light slant through the crack and touch me in my pain, I felt a little roomier.

We can hurry past small joys and kindnesses to get to what we imagine are bigger ones and miss the simple savory gift of goodness. We can avoid our places of pain and loss, allowing those tender spots to close us in or close us off. Yet, given a moment to breathe, to open, and be witnessed by another in the presence of God, let in light and sky for more of Him, beautiful and good.

Often roominess needs deep breaths until my breathing slows and deepens. I might repeat a breath prayer like this one,

Lord, have mercy,
You are beautiful, kind, and good.

Or soften my posture with my hands open in my lap, shoulders relaxed, my face towards the sky.

I may have hoped to avoid or contain hurting places, but they hold the capacity to become wild blue skies if only I would open myself toward them with a life that falls back into God’s loving arms. Frederick Buechner calls such unlikeliness a crazy, holy grace.

Buechner writes,

[don’t’ dismiss] the serious possibility that through flaws and fissures in the bedrock of harshness of things, there still wells up from time to time, out of a deeper substratum of reality, a kind of crazy, holy grace.

Sometimes, we have no idea just how much bigger, juicier, and more tender our hearts can become until we stand on that deep holy ground where a river flows and skies beam, and let God love us.

Buechner, F. (2017). A Crazy, Holy Grace. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Lamott, A. (2012). Help. Thanks, Wow. New York City: Riverhead Books.
Wiman, C. (2013). My Bright Abyss. New York City: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

 (Wiman, 2013, p. 5)
 (Lamott, 2012, p. 21)
 (Buechner, 2017, p. 41)

Terri Conlin
Her passion is helping others connect with their bodies and discover the Divine within themselves through embodiment practices and somatic meditations. Her own spirituality can be described as Creation Spirituality and Embodied Christic Contemplation. She spent the majority of her adult life raising and nurturing her five children, two of which had major medical complications. She enjoys walking, reading, hiking, the natural world and long dynamic, life-filled conversations with close friends.