"Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress."
The singer of Psalm 4 is in trouble. He knows God is faithful, but things are bad, and his confidence is shaky. To steady himself, he remembers the way God helped him out of another tight spot once upon a time. What help did God give him? God, he says, gave him room.
Sometimes when we pray, we ask for solutions to problems; but God's help often comes not as a solution, but as a kind of roominess - more breathing space, greater freedom of spirit, a longer view, a bigger horizon, a little more time.
These hard days, when we're pressed for time, money, explanations for cruelty and crime, and frustratingly hard-pressed for political solutions to intractable problems, what is more welcome than a little more room?
Eastertide is almost over. Pentecost is coming soon. It's a good time to remember with thanks all the ways Christ's resurrection is mysteriously making the world roomier, swelling hope, and allowing Creation (and all us sinners) to breathe lustily in the face of final death - the only thing God isn't making room for any more.
Easter is almost over, but Easter's gift never goes back on the shelf. Neither does its charge. Roominess is the mark and mission of disciples - to expand sad travellers' hearts by telling a capacious Story; to pull up another chair at our tables, as many as it takes to welcome all; to feed God's lambs with the rising bread of reconciliation; to bless the suffocated earth with Christ's deep, deep breath of peace.
O Roomy One, give us room. Loosen the constricted. Breathe air into the airless space we make when we are straight and narrow. Unbind your good creation to be the vast realm of your grace. In every tight and gloomy place, let Easter always shine.
J. Mary Luti is Visiting Professor of Worship and Preaching at Andover Newton Theological School.