To Learn Something by Being Nothing

The dream of my life

Is to lie down by a slow river

And stare at the light in the trees-

To learn something by being nothing

A little while but the rich

Lens of attention

-Mary Oliver

Nothing gives me more happiness than the perfectly timed prose that delights my heart and mind. Such kind was this poem when it came to me as I was sitting down to read a page from “The Soul’s Religion” by Thomas Moore. I sat down on a long-abandoned old tire to stare at the light in the wild grass field. The sun was setting and the afternoon glow was soothing to my soul. I could sit here forever, I thought, as I moved my gaze down to the book I was reading. I flipped the book to try my luck and found this beautifully apt poem catching my glimpse, and time stood still at the timelessness of the discovery. The dream of my life is to lie down by a slow river and stare at the light in the trees— Oliver was narrating. I was living her dream.

Gentle wave of the afternoon light was slowly floating by. I could not stop staring at the beautiful golden light blessing the field, blessing the moment, blessing my soul. In my old winter sweater and cheap gray boots, I was sitting on an abandoned tractor tire withered by wind and rain. In the afternoon light, I sat there, with a simple library book that I didn’t even own. I felt complete as if I lacked nothing. More than anything, I felt like me, the pure-me that was the essence of the being only God knew fully. I sat there on an old tire as a simple soul that loved books, sunlight, and solitary walks in the nature. All the traces of the built-up ego that I have foolishly guarded in the name of self-protection fell away and I sat there being washed clean by the merciful light of God.

Emptiness is the very essence of religion and the spiritual life, the open window that allows divine grace to pour in (Soul’s Religions, Thomas Moore). In the space of pristine emptiness, the mystery is experienced, and we are revealed little by little to resemble the essence of who we truly are. Emptiness is not simply a state devoid of action and thoughts. Emptiness, rather, is understood in the sense of time, as it is a moment experienced when one drops an ego-self and opens his heart and mind to the infinite and the mysterious. Emptiness is a day off from a hard work, it is visiting a quiet chapel to pray, it’s a weekend away in the rented cabin, a walk in the woods, or meditation in your own backyard. It’s an opening through which we step into the spiritual progress. Sometimes, emptiness occurs after a painful loss. Sometimes, a thoughtful letter or a simple prose from a book can provoke a moment of emptiness. In whatever forms you are experiencing the time of emptiness whether delightful or painful, my prayer is that you will welcome it with an open heart and mind because it is the hour to know and experience God. It is the hour to meet the divinity in you. You will come to see how truly, madly, and wondrously loved you are by none other than the Creator of the universe Himself. And that is the lesson you will learn by being nothing.

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