It rises and falls moment by moment, me scarcely aware. Receiving breath-gift. Fullness. The surrender of release. Emptiness.
The breath cycle happens in spirit as in body. Grace is given, received with thankfulness. A moment, a day perhaps, of felt fullness, joy and peace. Excitement at what God is doing. Then it fades. Fatigue sets in. Restlessness. A fresh awareness of my own emptiness and poverty and need.
I seem to want always to feel full.
I forget that constant fullness leads to death.
Those with asthma know. Emptiness is a gift, constant fullness that against which they war. For in their illness, the problem is not receiving breath, but releasing it; not getting air in, but out. As the airways close, the lungs stay full. No release, no space for the next breath in. And the air within, the gift of the past, has already done its life-giving work, gracing the body with oxygen. It can give no more life but waits to be surrendered, the space emptied for another rise to fullness.
And I wonder, can I learn not to fight the process of surrender? Each time the fullness wanes, can I learn to ask, “What am I being invited to release?” Can I move beyond seeing emptiness as a necessary but unpleasant preparation for fullness and learn to receive the unique gifts that emptiness offers? For it is only here that we discover ourselves loved in our poverty, our nothingness. It is here alone that we learn we are cherished not for our doing, but because by unfathomable mystery God delights in our being.
And I realize that without this gift of emptiness, there is no rising cycle to fullness, for this is the gift, the earthy, holy stuff of new creation fullness, that at our emptiest, we find ourselves embraced again by the One who delights to draw us close enough to breathe into us our next moment of fullness.
A repost from the archives