It has been said that to be full of things is to be empty of God. Whereas, to be empty of things is to be full of God. (Meister Eckhart) What does that mean to you? And how on this earth can we ever feel like we have successfully emptied ourselves of things in order to receive God's love? It seems like a mighty big task, perhaps too monumental.
Things...... the cluttery knickknacks that we allow to accumulate in our brains? The lists of "to do's," "must haves," "gotta finish," "must resolve?" It includes the feelings of avoidance, fear, guilt and shame which paint our spirits with opaqueness. And don't forget the negativity aroused by our doubting self-talk.
Layers and layers of phyllo clothing........
We are messes aren't we? We are all packrats at heart.........stuffing ourselves with "things" to a point where are minds are satiated......perhaps overflowing........clogging our arteries, and armouring our hearts. Too much of a good thing? Too much of a bad thing?
Too much. It blocks the light.
Too much and we are burdened beyond recognition.
Too much and we may even have to pass up a small little wafer, for fear of exploding. (with visions of Monty Python as I write this sentence!)
No wonder we have a tough time finding the way to stillness. Our "things" are chugging and churning and pulsating through our veins blocking spiritual oxygen found in the light.
And now we find ourselves ensconsed in the season of reflective thought. It is also the season which is the most pardoxical, for autumn is a feast for the senses where bounty and empty intermingle. It is the season where we fill up with both beauty and more serious contemplations.....soulful reflections..........some of which stop us from moving forward, some of which continue to block the light despite our efforts.
Our "things" drag the energy right out of our efforts.
But, maybe thats the key to reaching empty. Maybe that's what needs to happen before the spiritual kindling will catch a spark......a ray. Maybe when we expend our energies, when we don't have the strength for even the churning and chugging to take place, when our defences have been spent, that we finally begin to feel like there is some space amongst the clutter.
When I think about it now, this can take a long, long time. We are physically and mentally strong! We have the capacity to put up a good fight protecting our things! Fear and determination coupled with our ability to deny, avoid and repress...........to push it down and down in order to ADD more things into the coffers........no wonder it takes a long time to be emptied...........to accept that emptiness is where we meet God. It's a lot of work pushing all of our things uphill, but we seem to choose this route more readily than the other........leaving it all at the bottom of the hill and walking up free of burdens. Why is that???
So where to start? I think autumn gives us this answer too. It is found in the clarity of the wind, in the profusion of the colour. It is found in the rattling dead leaves tripping down the street. It is found in the early nights and the startling sunrises. It is found in the migration of the flocks of birds, in the busyness of the squirrels. It is found in the bounty and maturity of nature and of ourselves.
Autumn is the season of gratitude. This paradoxical season allows us to see that all prayer begins with thank you. And from there, we learn that the things don't matter, because what we are thankful for helps us make sense of our past. It softens our spirit and soothes the churning. From our acknowledgement of gratitude, we begin to fill and feel a connection with God.
We just need to sit quietly and say the words out loud.....if only in a whisper.
And so I begin..............thank you....
"If the only prayer you say in your life is "thank you," that would suffice." Meister Eckhart.