Finding a third space
My wife Lori and I have a regular ritual on Thursdays, my day off. We get our two boys dropped off at the junior and senior high schools, and then we head to the coffee shop. There, we spend a couple of hours talking, working on projects on our laptops or just reading. Thursday mornings have become one of my favorite times of the week.
It’s also a great place to do “people-watching.” From the time we arrive to the time we leave, there are always small clusters of people sitting around tables, enjoying a caffeinated beverage and sharing in-depth conversation about whatever topics are in the news or on their mind. It’s always amusing to see the “Federated Rush” during the 10am break time. And of course, I run into lots of people from my congregation.
Sociologists talk about places like coffee shops as having become our culture’s “Third Space” in people’s lives. The first space is the home. The second space is our place of work. These third spaces are places where people gather to build relationships and to be in community with each other.
“Third Spaces” are important things, because humans are wired to be in community. There is a reason that since ancient days, humans roamed the wilderness in tribes and groups. Being together brings safety, reassurance and comfort.
This is no less true today. Countless times I have been in rooms at the hospital or hospice where someone’s life is hanging in the balance. Those rooms are typically full of people; family and friends who come together for reassurance and comfort.
“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” -Hebrews 10:24-25
God calls us to be in community, for comfort and reassurance, but also to “provoke one another to love and good deeds.”
Where is your third space? Where do you gather with friends and family to talk, to be in relationship with each other, and to encourage one other?
Wherever it is, remember that it is a gift. Remember that to be in that space is to live as God created us to be. Remember that it’s about support and care for each other. And remember that it’s about encouraging each other not only in our own lives, but in how we might take the gifts that we’ve been given and share them with others. Being community together is how God has called us to live!