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I’ve realised over the last week (or perhaps re-realised) how important having your own space is. Somewhere that you have your stuff, however much or little that is, somewhere that is stable, somewhere that is peaceful, and somewhere you can keep the outside world out, if needs be.

We had family holidaying with us last week, and I think we all realised how important space was when we didn’t have any. Their family of four was in my bedroom, and I was in the living room on the floor. The common space in the dining room was basically taken up by the dad of the family (who set up his home office in the corner) and the kids, who needed space to play, draw, etc. The poor little 3 year old had night terrors and although he was perfectly cheerful during the day, would keep everyone up at night with his crying. Basically, there was nowhere in our little house where anyone could escape to for a bit of peace and quiet. My aunt decided after the third night of no sleep that they would have to find a serviced apartment. It ended up quite a good outcome really, because we were all getting a bit frazzled and I don’t think by the end of the 10 days that they would have had a very good holiday!

(It was also pretty difficult, when I was sick with a fever/cough, to be gracious and hospitable!)

It made me think about people living in poverty, with even less space and more people to fit in it, permanently. Or people who are homeless, living in hostels or on the street, who have to fight to even have somewhere to lie down, let alone somewhere peaceful or stable. It makes me so grateful and so thankful that God provides what I need, that I only have minor and fleeting discomfort compared to so many. It makes me feel a bit sheepish for having felt so stressed by it all.

If you’ve never seen Kevin McCloud’s fascinating doco on the Dharavi slum in Mumbai, Slumming It, do check it out. I remember being absolutely stunned by the section in the following clip, from about 6:00 onwards, that details how a family of 21 lives in one house, five sleeping in the same room (from 7:52). I guess if you had never grown up with the privilege of space and privacy, you would never expect it, would you?