Emptiness brings fullness, so says the Indigo Girls in their song "Hand Me Downs". On the surface, the idea of emptiness bringing fullness seems like a misnomer. But in a very real way, that is also the path of a coherent and rich spirituality, especially if you are very keen about being filled, or exploring the many ways in which you can be filled. Thomas Merton wrote that “The will to pray is the essence of prayer and the secret of prayer is a hunger for God.” The hunger for God is a manifestation of our emptiness, and the desire to be filled, of which meditation is one, is key in our endless attempt to be filled.
Last Tuesday evening, a new meditation group at Christ Church had its first meditation session in Old Brick. It was a really, really powerful moment for me, one that will stay with me a long time because this was my first meditation with a group since I began my ministry here at Christ Church. I had the benefit of meditating within the context of worship at my former parish, and so I have been very open to the idea of a group here at Christ Church.
A conversation about offering meditation here at Christ Church began last year after a presentation on Mindfulness and Wellness by parishioner Joan Burleyson. Unfortunately, however, we didn’t see any movement on it until a few weeks ago, when after another presentation at Adult Forum, some of our parishioners committed themselves to being a part of this new group.
I cannot tell you how special it was to sit in a somewhat circle of sorts with parishioners, to re-engage myself in a more intentional and focused meditation. This is a practice that I miss. With my eyes closed, it was such a joy breathing in and out, following my breath, and in silence, whispered to myself, "Emptiness Brings Fullness."
As I breathed out, I could feel the metaphorical emptiness within me, and so I asked myself, "How often do you feel empty?" And as I breathed in, I asked myself, "How does the spirit of God fill my emptiness, and in fact makes me really full?" I know, deep within me, that something has to give, for if God is to fill me up, I must in fact be empty, totally empty, in order to be filled up. And like you, there are times when I feel incredibly empty and rudderless, and so I seek to be filled and be provided with some clear sense of direction.
The challenge is that which direction to be led in may not be all too clear or, in fact, I may desire to be filled with something other than what I may desperately need. That is why the imperativeness to discern God’s will is not only important for deepening our own spirituality, but that meditation provide us with an incredible means by which we can be still - even amidst the chirping of birds and the humming of motor vehicle engines and - wait upon God. The added benefit is that it even lowers your blood pressure!!
The season of Lent provide us with moments of reflection, and we can, in fact, tell of the depth to which we have been emptied out if we can actually take a moment to engage ourselves in total self-reflection, of which prayer and meditation is an integral part. And I believe it is through a process of meditation and prayer that we can discover a new kind of fullness and wholeness that has been available to us all along, but which we have not actually made use of.
I am sure you have heard the cliché ‘empty barrels make the most noise’. Our emptiness leads us into making a different kind of noise. But recognizing the emptiness and the noise we make thereof begins for us the movement towards being filled. And for that I am convinced that if we open ourselves up to being filled with the breath of God’s spirit, we still can make some noise, but we will rather make a joyful noise to the Lord.