During this darkest time of the year, I’m sitting with a powerful poem that celebrates emptiness.

Oblation     By Elizabeth B. Rooney

I hope each day

To offer less to You,

Each day

By Your great love to be


Until at last I am

So decreased by Your hand

And You, so grown in me,

That my whole offering

Is just an emptiness

For You to fill

Or not

According to Your will.

This notion that the emptier I am of self, the more I can be filled with the Light of God underlies spiritual practice.

For most, but perhaps especially for addicts, any emptiness can feel terrifying, and so has been filled with just about any available substance, distraction, or shiny new objects. (Think of pre-emptive eating in case you get hungry later.)

Years of meditation and growing comfort with silence have revealed to me, as Gerald May taught, that making friends with the emptiness transforms it into spaciousness.  So when I’m too busy or uncomfortable with 20 minutes of silence, I know it’s time to invite more space in my day.

We are in a season of letting go. The darkening days before the solstice invite me to release expectations of productivity—some days I crawl in bed by 7:00 to be warm and rested.

This protracted pandemic sheltering in place invites yet another level of release of the “stuff” of our lives. I’ve re-arranged rooms, taken more to the thrift store, and filled every Little Free Library within walking distance. The longer I’m home, the less I need, the more spaciousness and emptiness are inviting.

And loneliness due to mostly virtual connections requires that I expand my circle of friendship to be more nourishing. I’m calling people I haven’t talked to for years and sharing what truly matters.

Ignatius gives us guidance on what to let go—is it life-giving? Even once robust relationships and affiliations might shift in time, so staying attuned to subtle energy is as important as ever. These are the conversations of monthly spiritual direction sessions.

May you welcome the spiritual paradoxes that await during this season and receive deep satisfaction in letting go of excess and being filled with love.