The Trials of Emptiness: Day of Reflection
Diocesan Director of Ordinands, Revd David Morris, explores how much emptiness has featured in our lives over the past twelve months and what it can teach us.
It was all so surreal wasn’t it?! The world locking down around us. The death toll and infection rates rocketing. Many of us could only helplessly watch those unprecedented events unfold on the news!
It hit me most profoundly that life was going to be very different as I started deleting meetings out of my diary, one minute It was full of physical meetings for weeks ahead, and the next... empty. Emptiness has been a significant feature of this year. The emptiness of grief, the emptiness of unemployment, the emptiness of loneliness and so on. But in another sense the emptiness has perhaps given us cause to appreciate how full our lives were and to realise how we were so quick and eager to fill them! My once empty diary is now pretty full again with zoom meetings - who would have thought it?! I didn’t know what zoom was 12 months ago!
In the scriptures we have numerous examples of where God takes emptiness and fills it with his life, light, and love. He transforms the emptiness and gives it purpose. In the beginning we have the familiar story of creation where God creates out of nothing, he brings the world into existence out of a ‘formless void’. We learn too how time and again he fills the lives of biblical characters who carry emptiness or who lack direction and purpose, with new vision and meaning. Shortly, we will recall the desolation of the cross and the emptiness of the tomb and how from it there came resurrection, bringing hope and new life! These examples remind us that, if we allow him, God can fill our emptiness and give us renewed hope and purpose.
Emptiness comes with many trials, but it can teach us a lot about ourselves and our world. Just like the first disciples finding the empty tomb, emptiness can leave us feeling bewildered and scared, but it can also kindle in us a spark of hopefulness that things can and will change and get better. During this time many of us will have discovered that we have greater resilience and inner strength than we had imagined, and many have found new ways of forming community to uphold and support each other.
I personally hope I’m not quick to forget some of the valuable insights and lessons the past year has given me. Not least how important faith, family, friendships, and rest are, and to never take them for granted or let my diary get so full again that I neglect them in any way. Whatever emptiness you have experienced and carried in the last 12 months, l pray that God will fill it with his life, transform it with his love and bless you with renewed hope and purpose.
Our Diocesan Service for the National Day of Reflection: