This strikes me as fundamentally true. I know that regularly I try to fill up my emptiness with distractions - or tasks - rather than sit with them in trust. Small wonder then, that sometimes, just as I am about to fall asleep, these empty places sneak back into my awareness. Clearly my soul wants me to let God fill up my emptiness even as I unconsciously resist. And if I won't do it during the day, then I'll get another chance when my defenses are down. Not with cruelty or judgment as the God of my youth once demanded, but rather with patience and grace.
For the past week I have been invited to sit with my emptiness almost nightly. Jesus once said that we cannot control the movement of the Spirit any more than we can manipulate the movement of the wind. (John 3:8) So I have no idea why this is happening now; I suspect it is so that I can practice praying, "Come, Lord Jesus, come" when it happens. Oh, I still get anxious at first - I like to sleep - so I flop around in bed for a while before sitting up to quietly welcome the silence. I want to be able to welcome this call to emptiness like I do when snow falls during the day: tenderly, gratefully, openly. I adore daylight snow storms. Everything becomes silent for a spell. The traffic stops. The world slows down. There is a peace in these hills unlike any other time. Fr. Richard Rohr has written that when human beings lose connection or experience with the rhythms of grace in nature, we often oppose the movement of the Spirit within.
Without this grounding, we become alienated from ourselves, from our Creator"Whether an ordinary sunrise, a starling on a power line, a tree in a park, or a cloud in the sky. This spirituality doesn’t depend on education or belief. It almost entirely depends on our capacity for simple presence. Often those without formal education and “unbelievers” do this better than a lot of us."
It is snowing vigorously right now in the Berkshires. We're likely to get at least another 7-12 inches before it stops tomorrow morning. Last night, as I was pushed into consciousness again even though I wanted to sleep, I sat up quietly and prayed a Centering Prayer: "Abba" as I breathed in, and "Save me" as I breathed out. When all was calm after about ten minutes I read another few pages of my French mystery novel and fell asleep quickly.
This is what the whole of Lent has been like for me this year: being awakened, resisting the call, breathing creation in as the insistent invitation of the Spirit to rest in God's grace and experiencing rest. Why I regularly resist I will never know? I am a slow learner. "Lord, I believe, and help my disbelief!"