I also figured out that there is no way I can cover all three sections of Part I in one post, so I'm going to write on Emptiness today, and then on Fiat Tuesday, and Advent Friday. For the most part I'm going to just share a few passages that struck me, comment briefly, and then leave the floor open for any comments on these or other passages.
This first series of quotes is very long, but I think it describes very well what we are about in this discussion.
That virginal quality which, for want of a better word, I call emptiness is the beginning of this contemplation.
It is not a formless emptiness, a void without meaning; on the contrary it has a shape, a form given to it by the purpose for which it is intended
. . .
Emptiness is a very common complaint in our days, not the purposeful emptiness of the virginal heart and mind but a void, meaningless, unhappy condition.
Strangely enough, those who complain the loudest of the emptiness of their lives are usually people whose lives are overcrowded, filled with trivial details, plans, desires, ambitions, unsatisfied cravings for passing pleasures, doubts, anxieties and fears; and these sometimes further overlaid with exhausting pleasures which are an attempt, and always a futile attempt, to forget how pointless such people's lives are.
. . .
The question most people will ask is: "Can someone whose life is cluttered up with trivial things get back to this virginal emptiness.
Of course he can; if a bird's nest has been filled with broken glass and rubbish, it can be emptied.
At the beginning it will be necessary for each individual to discard deliberately all the trifling unnecessary things in his life, all the hard blocks and congestion; not necessarily to discard all his interests for ever, but at least once to stop still, and having prayed for courage, to visualise (sic) himself without all the extras, escapes, and interests other than Love in his life: to see ourselves as if we had just come from God's hand and had gathered nothing to ourselves yet, to discover just what shape is the virginal emptiness of our own being, and of what material we are made.I think we are all pretty familiar at least in some way with practicing this emptying out process in Lent, but it's only been in the last several years that I've attempted it in Advent. It is so much harder in Advent because we are surrounded by people we love who have expectations in which we play a part. In fact, that is probably the biggest obstacle to reaching this virginal emptiness. I'm at a stage in my life where I have a fair amount of control over this, but I know that some of the people who have told me they were interested in this discussion still have young children, and that finding even a few minutes a day will be difficult, so I suggest we all pray for one another to be able find as much time as we can.
That last paragraph pretty well delineates our task. The word escape really jumps out at me. As much as I crave silence and reflection, I still paradoxically find myself turning to things: movies, the internet, etc., that keep me away from that silence. I'm intrigued by this notion of seeing myself as if I had just come from God's hand. I'm not even sure how you can do this, but I want to try to just sit with that a while.
So, any thoughts or comments?
Just a bit of housekeeping--it is possible to reply to a specific comment instead of just adding your comment to the end of the list; HOWEVER, I would advise that you do not do this. I have found that this becomes very confusing and that people miss comments because they are tucked away under the original comment. If you want to reply specifically to something, just reference it in some way--by addresses the person by name or quoting part of the original.
All of the posts in this series can be found by clicking HERE.
Unfortunately they are in reverse order, so you have to scroll down to get to the beginning.