What does it mean to occupy space in literature?
You change and are changed by that space. It’s fluid. You can enter, you can leave, you can bring people along. You discover something new. You retell a story. The moment you set your eyes on the page, you embody the writer’s words. They become a part of you.
Literature itself becomes a vehicle for us to enter unoccupied space.
Virginia Woolf says, “Let us dally a little longer, be content with surfaces only.”
Through pilgrimage we learn to pay attention to things just the way they are, without forcing meaning upon them. They are meaningful in themselves, and we ought to discover them for that inherent beauty.
Dr. Kriner tells us to “pay attention for other people,” and it reminds me of Flannery O’Connor’s theology of art and faith. Art is the act of discovery and sharing that discovery with the people around us. Art is sacrament, a way of communing with and encountering the living God. We long for others to experience the same, so we share our art. We share our words, our images, our thoughts, our quickened breaths.
Taking photos in public spaces forces me to pay attention to things I otherwise would have overlooked. The crumpled pages in the parking lot. The carved out stump behind the church. The rusty faucet in the side of the apartment complex. The discarded plastic shower caddie at the bottom of the concrete steps. Each of these things occupy unique space. Forgotten though they may be, they invite us into their story.
Inanimate objects are just as interesting as animate ones.
I’ve challenged myself to take photos of my surroundings every day for the next two months. I want to encounter more of God through art, both photography and writing. He is present even in the mundane. He is always here, waiting and calling for us to discover where he’s been all along. In many ways, we don’t have to go anywhere special to find him. We don’t need to have a dramatic experience for him to reveal himself. He’s in everything he has created, the same way an author or poet leaves a part of himself in his every work. So we find God in his created order.
The empty spaces are never truly empty.