Like many people, I typically set goals for myself at the beginning of each year. Losing ten pounds, writing my next book, and trying to love myself and others better are all goals I often put on my New Year’s let’s-do-it list. Setting goals is good, and striving to achieve them is awesome.
But this year was different. This year, with eyes closed and heart open, I sat in my Quiet Time and asked the Creator, “What are your goals, your desires, your dreams for me this year?”
After asking that question, I sat. Then I sat some more, and then some more.
After thirty minutes of sitting in silence, I didn’t hear a response from the Creator. Instead, an overwhelming emptiness consumed me—a jarring sense of disconnection from myself, my emotions, and even from God plagued me as a dull and lifeless emptiness overshadowed my mind, body, and Spirit.
Frustrated, I shook my head, opened my eyes, and gazed out the window. The pre-dawn sky—the one that hovers over the last few moments of the night, holds its breath and awaits the first light of day—filled me with a mysterious sense of awe.
Enchanted by the allure of the black-velvet sky transforming into light, I sat watching the breathless moment unfold, eternal and sacred, yet also remarkably ordinary—it was as if the dawn pierced the darkness of my soul.
I sighed with a glimmer of hope, closed my eyes, and pondered.
Could it be that the Creator is offering me the grace of emptiness? Is God urging me to release my ceaseless cravings for more? Does Divine Grace want to empty me of my attachment to seeking external validation and praise from others? Is God’s response to the question I had posed to the Creator a Divine Nudge to embrace emptiness, allowing the paradox of emptiness to awaken my heart to its wholeness?
The emptiness I experienced in those moments of contemplation felt different than surrender. To me, surrender is like arm-wrestling with God. It invites an action on my part. It causes me to enter fight or flight mode. It means somebody wins and somebody loses. Surrender is a verb. It puts me in control. And my stubborn Irish temperate would rather fight than wave white flags.
Emptiness is a state of being. It’s opening the arms of our hearts to something bigger than ourselves. It’s a noun. It refers to containing nothing; not filled or occupied. Emptiness is passive. After the Virgin Mary said “yes,” she opened her life to God and the Holy Spirit filled her womb with the wholeness of the Christ-child.
Maybe the grace of emptiness, the letting go of what clutters our hearts, the quieting of the clamor that distracts us with our mind-made egos—is the pathway to creating virgin space for the Spirit. Maybe God’s desire for us is to become empty so we can experience our wholeness in the Divine refuge of our hearts.
Stillness. Emptiness. Creating space for the Divine. The Light pierces and declutters our darkness so we can awaken to the wholeness that already exists within us once we become aware of Divine Presence.
Like Mary, my prayer this year is that God will grant me the grace to say “yes” to the gift and paradox of emptiness. May it be done unto you and me according to the Word made flesh in us.
May emptiness awaken us to the Divine Wholeness already within us.
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