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Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
lay still and waited, wild awake.
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.
The all-important central emptiness
which is filled
with the presence of God alone.”
I am learning more deeply in these days that emptiness is necessary; it is also quite scary for most of us. I could lie and say that emptiness no longer scares me the way it did as a child, but I would be lying. As I grow older, and death becomes more a part of my intentional consciousness, emptiness brings some level of fear, for far too often I confuse emptiness with loneliness.
Like many, I fear growing old alone. I fear the dark emptiness that this could bring. But there is an emptiness which has nothing to do with a partner, for I have been with others and simultaneously felt alone.
Emptiness is not only necessary it is also good. Emptiness is the only space that can truly ‘contain’ God. In emptiness there are no leaks or cracks, just pure and endless space. I fill the emptiness far too often with things that are not meant for it. For years, to the point of addiction, I filled emptiness with drugs, alcohol, sex, excitement, drama, darkness. You name it…and I could try and use it to fill the void known as emptiness.
Everywhere I look I see this same symptom of addiction: fill the void, fill the emptiness. Marketers, admen, corporations, news programs, and pharmaceutical companies will tell me – without actually telling me – that the hole in the center of my being was created for their specific products. And if I listen to them I have no shortage of deluge of things to fill this emptiness – antidepressants, sleep aids, pain meds, meds to keep me paying attention, meds to keep me skinny, hard as a rock. Then throw in the 24 hour a day channels that spew endless upon endless means for consumption be it news, sports, or shopping networks.
And at the end of the day, that is the true enemy of emptiness, not evil or addiction, but consumption; the never ending obsession with “more”.
But that pining emptiness within me tells me there is another way, a way of divine love, a way that says my emptiness is the portal for God as much as it is a reminder that I am fallible and finite.
Emptiness reminds me of my place in the grand scheme of things. I am created before I am a creator. I am an image of God not the God. I am finite yet I am a dwelling place for the Infinite. Emptiness is necessary if I am to encounter God on a daily basis for in my emptiness God in his fullness comes near, reminding me I am both child and beloved.
So, today I will try and face my fear of emptiness and in the mere confronting of it I know I will experience the One who is the Fullness of Love.
The following blog entry is a repost from Joan Chittister from The Monastic Way.
The Monastic Way is for people who lead a busy life, but long for greater spiritual depth. In the 2015 monthly issues, Joan Chittister explores quotations from great spiritual figures who dealt with the same kind of soul-stretching questions that each of us do. You’re invited to join her in this simple practice that takes minutes from your day but gives meaning for a lifetime.
Joan Chittister wrote this and the art work is by Brother Mickey McGrath
“In the center of us all, guiding and calling, prodding and poking at the lassitude in our souls, the fear in our hearts, the frettings at the bottom of our minds, lies the spark of life that we recognize most clearly as “my-self.” This is the “me” that is always there in its rawest form. The “me” of all my distant hopes and all my controlling feelings. This is the “person” that I know myself to be—whether anyone else knows that part of me or not.
The recognition of this self in me is the beginning of the spiritual life. With it comes the awareness of what we call the “true” self. This is the me, the one who is the vessel of both my inmost feelings, positive and negative, and my most illuminating, most uncensored insights into my reason for being, my place in the universe, my relationship with God.
This innermost self is the raw material of our spirituality. It signals the demons with which we struggle our way through life and it identifies the angels of our better nature who carry us from one level of the self to the next. In our “deepest” we know the best and the weakest of our spiritual selves. In this place we can see where our heart really lies in life and we can name the demons with which we wage our daily wars: to be better, to do good, to live with clay feet on a divine path.
Our “deepest” is clearly where the real me drives me on from desire to desire. Our inner talk there is about ourselves. Our concerns, down deep, are too commonly only for ourselves. Our struggles emerge there out of the dreams and disappointments, the demands and the denials we breed with ourselves in mind. But not Catherine of Genoa’s. Her “deepest” is God. Her center of life is God. Her awareness of her basic self is her understanding of Emmanuel, God with us, always, in her.
The thought stuns us into a new awareness of the nature of our own lives. Here is a woman who knew without doubt that the God she sought was the God who was her very breath itself. When she turned to the “self” within she discovered the God who had created her, sustained her and drew her on through life.
Unusual? Not really.
The fact is that our “deepest” is God, too. Only it takes most of us years to discover that. The process is a profound one.”