Years ago a friend of mine experienced a series of losses. I said to her, “God is making all this space in your life. I can’t wait to see what comes along to fill it.”
I don’t know if she felt like shooting poison daggers into my heart at that moment. Do you think? If you said that to me right now I think I might.
It started for me around last Christmas. Maybe only the straining of growth, which is synonymous with endings. Maybe a rhythm I set years ago — or had set for me by the struggle that is life — of expanding and contracting? I don’t know. But several things that I had counted on, things that made sense of my life, just vanished in a poof of smoke.
Do you know the hollowing? Do you know the season when the hours and days stretch out like geologic time? When you wonder what will come along to fill what can’t be filled?
I don’t know if you have tried the things I have tried. Coffee and homemade banana muffins. Twitter and Instagram. Movies and park dates with the kids? But no dice, right? The hollowing is the hollowing. You will be made concave. Struggle or not, your insides will be scooped out by the handful.
A wise friend sent me a poem about a singing bowl. And I already knew it, as I read the words. I already knew – don’t tell me — that the hollow sings. The concave and hollowed out is blessed in this way. A vessel for sacred space and sacred time.
It doesn’t mean that I want you to tell me. If you tell me that God is making space in my life right now I might still find daggers for you in the back of my eyes. But yes, I know.
The hollowing is sacred time.
I don’t believe in a puppet master God. Or a vindictive God. I don’t believe that God needs me to be weakened or harmed. I don’t believe that God is teaching me a lesson.
But I do believe in God like a wild wind that blows through and picks up all the dust. I do believe that the loss and emptiness is blessed because it will be filled. And I believe this, too, that it is a better path to be filled with a sacred song than with a thousand illusions of comfort or security.
We are wired for struggle. And the struggle can be sacred, too.
When the day stretches out in geologic time. And my feet aren’t quite on the ground. Sacred.
When I struggle and am exhausted and imperfect and I don’t know what’s coming next. Sacred.
When I am forgotten and invisible. When you could pass your hand right through me as if I weren’t even there. Sacred.
When I am a singing bowl, emptied out and vibrating at God’s touch…
“Become an open singing-bowl, whose chime
Is richness rising out of emptiness,
And timelessness resounding into time.”
See the rest of this beautiful poem and subscribe to the poet Malcolm Guite right here.