Writing in the Margins

He wrote as if every inch of space must be used or he would be wasteful.  From top to bottom, the page turned side ways to accommodate more writing, margins were merely more space for him to include the details of his day, including time of the writing and temperature.



We said it was because he was a depression kid. We said it was because he grew up with so little and knew the value of a half-inch of space on a sheet of paper.

Me? I like my margins clean and wide. When my writing goes half a font into that precious space I haven’t been free with the page. I haven’t been giving to the space and I feel stingy.

Then margins became about something else. People became margins and marginalized and I don’t know when that happened. Maybe it sounds better than calling them homeless if we can think they are living somewhere in a margin. Off the side, not with the rest of us in the “body” but still in a place.




I’m visual that way and I need to picture the margins on a page. Most of the words in the body, in the content. And most of us live there. In a neighborhood. But there are some who just don’t fit, by choice or circumstance or illness so they walk or move or are pushed to the margins.

Every Sunday I see a man holding a sign standing at the off ramp. I turn my eyes away, look down to fumble with my phone or push the buttons on the radio. I’m frustrated by his needs, the ones I don’t know. I’m frustrated because when he turns to his right, over his shoulder he can see a place he can find rest and comfort and food and hope. I’m aggravated he chooses to hold a sign and I’m tired of facing his sign and I am wrong. Wrong to judge and I just don’t know what his margins hold. Could be addiction. I know about that. Those are the margins I work in. Could be mental illness and that’s the saddest. But he doesn’t deserve my judging.  My wanting to preserve the clean space. My overlooking him in the margin of my life.


My father-in-law wasn’t afraid to write in the margins, to use every bit of space on that paper. And he wasn’t afraid to work in the margins as he committed his life’s work to sharing the message of hope. He prayed with the leaders and knelt with the homeless.  None were denied hope, the thing we all need, all crave. His words were writing into the margins of their life.


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8 thoughts on “Writing in the Margins

  1. Mama's Empty Nest says:

    Oh, what truth you’ve shared with us here, Debby. Marginalizing is something I’m guilty of too. I too like my margins clean except in my study Bible. There I mark up all over the place because I need those reminders….every day!

    • Debby says:

      You’d think I’d be better at this. The topic was thought-provoking to me. When I looked away, I saw a woman in the car behind me with her hand out her window holding a banana and bottle of water for the man. She must drive that way often because she was ready. She had a child in the car with her and I thought what a great example she was to him.

  2. katharinetrauger says:

    Hi, there!
    You know, the “Ten Lepers” has come up 3 times for me, in this week. Hmm. Thanks for a beautiful post! I love writing in the margins–but I think I’m just too lazy to turn the page! 😀

    • Debby says:

      For me it’s the verse about God is doing a new thing that’s come up in different places. I know the hmmmmm you’re talking about Katharine. Your last statement made me laugh because that’s a great way to say it. I know what you mean. Thanks Katharine!

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