Wednesday, September 17, 2008

holding onto empty

twice this week i've been left empty handed. once, i was anticipating coming away with something and didn't, and another time i was anticipating keeping something and couldn't.

last thursday i had my counseling appointment. i was so excited to see shari after having been unable to meet with her for almost a month. i brought pictures with me and had many unanswered questions i was ready to ask. but because it had been a month and we weren't on our regular schedule, we didn't meet at her office at the same time and missed each other. knowing that i was up the mountain, babysitting was taken care of for the next hour, and nowhere in particular to go, i decided to grab a cup of coffee and sit. i drove to a parking lot nearby and sat.

i sat and tried to sort through why i felt like i was left empty handed. with so many questions and anticipation brewing in my spirit, i so desperately wanted to share with someone and take away some answers. i went up to genessee with palms open, waiting expectantly for resolution and peace and was instead faced with closing my fingers around nothing but my coffee cup. i'm glad i had something to wrap my hands around because i couldn't shake the disappointment of it just sits like the heaviest breath in my throat, and i'm unable to swallow. i wanted so desperately to fill the void. i thought about spending the time i still had at the mall making purchases, or going home to clean. i couldn't just sit empty - i needed to be filled.

thankfully, i only had to sit for an hour. i finished my coffee and tried to spend the time in silence, meditating. and when finally, my normal appointment time was over, i turned on my car and headed for home just in time for shari to call and say she was on her way up the hill and we could still meet. i was then hopeful that i might not leave the mountain empty handed after all.

another time this week, i was holding joy and peace and fun and a spirit of gratitude when something simple pried my fingers open and what i had was stolen.

i was driving along bowles to begin running way too many errands for one night, thinking to myself how fun the day had been and smiling at a joke i had just made to karl on the phone. i felt something tingle in my chest and i thought, "is this feeling meant to make me more aware? do i need to be present to something? is it the song on the radio i should listen closer to? should i turn the radio off and hear only silence? should i pull over in the catholic church parking lot to wait and 'be present'?"

then, the moment passed and i went along my busy way. i was speeding to another store when the lights came on, a siren, and finally, the jefferson county sheriff pulled out right behind me. i got pulled over for driving 56 mph in a 40. my peace, my joy, my smile was taken out of my hands when i handed over my driver's license and registration - and was given a $58 four-point ticket.

after the officer left, i pulled into clement park and cried. i felt empty when what i wanted was to be full. i didn't know how to be present to that moment of disappointment. i didn't know how i should feel or if God was trying to speak. i didn't know what to do. so, i sat. i sat with the emptiness for what felt like too long before filling the void by calling karl to tell him the news and then calling my dad, a denver policeman, to see if he could take care of the ticket for me.

how do we hold on to empty? how do we sit with anticipation unmet, or disappointment in the loss of what was? how do we remain present in the moments that feel empty? are they worthless moments? doubtful.

in fact, what we do when we're holding on to empty might be the greatest test to who we really are. do we avoid empty? do we sweep it under the rug? do we try to fill it with a square peg when its in the shape of a round hole? or do we sit with emptiness and hold on to it with the same fervency as we hold on to full? should we?


1 comment:

:::No Longer Mute said...

Holding onto the empty seems to be the most dreaded part of living with a sense of presence. That's why I think we actually need one another during the emptiest of times - not to distract ourselves from the thickness and heaviness of it - but to help us stay there long enough to be aware of what it is bringing to us. It's so much easier to use one another as an escape. To ask another to take our hand as we journey through the muck requires a surrender that doesn't seem to come naturally.