Whether we are Christian or not, our sisters and brothers of that faith are moving into the final week of Lent, considering the death of Jesus from many perspectives, seeking to understand his witness on behalf of the vast majority of humanity who live on the margins of power. His teaching (in common with the teaching of all great teachers and mentors of faith) invites all people – of all religions and spiritualities – to realign themselves with the common good, common hope, universal love, abundant compassion, justice and mercy.
The scripture lessons that are used during the final week, which begins on Sunday, include one from a letter to the church in Philippi. This lesson speaks of Jesus “emptying” himself. This is not something we do very often; we tend to “fill” ourselves. We tend to believe that life is better when it is crammed with activity and stuff, than when it is open, clean, clear, spacious. We may say we want more space and time, but our decisions don’t reflect that.
This same letter also proclaims that Jesus did not grasp equality with the Holy One. What a novel idea: to intentionally empty out of our lives those attitudes and behaviors that have us grasping after ultimate power.
We humans have more than a few stories and myths that describe what happens to those who slip into the belief that we can replace the Divine. None of those stories end well for the humans who try it. Maybe we can learn something from that. And from looking around us and noticing that we are not doing a particularly stellar job at embodying peace, or sharing resources, or even keeping things picked up.
This week, I invite you to join me in an exercise. Maybe you would like to do a little bit each day, maybe you would like to set aside a whole day to engage in the activity.
* Create a list of the things (events, people, material possessions, appointments, etc.) that fill your life. Write them down on small slips of paper and put them in a basket or bowl or box, adding to them whenever you think of new ones.
Next Wednesday, take some time and imagine what would happen if you didn’t carry all these things around with you each day, everywhere you go. What space of time and energy would exist in your life if some of these were gone? What new meaning might be able to breathe in that space? What relationships might blossom?
Sort through the little slips and consider which ones you would like to “empty” from your life. Burn those slips of paper in a hibachi or fireplace.
And when you have burned them, erase them from your schedule, as well. Cross them out or white them out from your diary or desk calendar (if, like me, you still use such a low-tech product); digitally remove them from your computer calendar. Commit to three months of being “empty” of those attitudes, behaviors, projects, events, possessions.
Perhaps these words might accompany you in this task:
There must be space to dance;
there must be an open floor on which to spin in giddy joy,
to trace the patterns of journey.
There must be space for the notes to resonate,
for song to bounce and echo and reverberate.
There must be space for new life to expand into birth.
Unbind me from the linen gravecloths that lock me into what has been.
Break down the walls of safety.
Pour me into the emptiness between the planets.
Invite me into the infinite expanse within each atom.
Beckon me into a miraculous unfolding
into the curious unknown.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photo © 2011, Immram Chara, LLC
The Nebraska Windmill photo is available as a special order card or print from my Etsy shop.