Emptiness is an Invitation. A Reflection On Life's Emptiness: Friend or Foe?
Our experience of life's emptiness is a universal human experience; it is not without cause or purpose, for through it God directs our attention back upon Himself, that we may have life, and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10).
The emptiness in life we encounter is a universal human experience. Whether we choose to busy ourselves with work and movies and dinning out and a plethora of other social activities, or decide to walk a quiet path in search of peace, there is an emptiness about life that inevitably surfaces. Fear of this emptiness -- which falls under many names, the most common of which are boredom and loneliness -- can lead to a frenetic quest for distractions: if we fill our life to the brim with "things," that bothersome, unsettling emptiness will surely leave us to never return again. For some, it can take a very long time to grasp the futility of such an endeavor. But is emptiness really our enemy?
While nearly everyone notices an emptiness in life, what we do with it makes all the difference.
Nevertheless, these videos -- there are several of the same sort -- also serve as an interesting analogy of what life in the contemporary world can feel like. There are times when it seems as if our world is spinning so insanely fast that, at any moment, our grip will inevitably fail, resulting in an uncontrolled hurtle into space. It's an exaggeration, of course, but you get the point.
But there is something else nearly everyone notices about life in the here and now. Whether we choose to step onto the merry-go-round and whirl through life or not, busying ourselves with work and movies and dinning out and a plethora of other social activities, or decide to walk a quiet path in search of peace, there is an emptiness about life that inevitably surfaces. Fear of this emptiness -- which falls under many names, the most common of which are boredom and loneliness -- can lead to a frenetic quest for distractions: if we fill our life to the brim with "things," that bothersome, unsettling emptiness will surely leave us to never return again. For some, it can take a very long time to grasp the futility of such an endeavor.
St. Augustine, Doctor of Grace, laments in Confessions of his previous attraction to created "things" of "fair forms": "Thou wert within, and I abroad, and there I searched for Thee; deformed I, plunging amid those fair forms which Thou hadst made. Thou wert with me, but I was not with Thee. Things held me far from Thee, which, unless they were in Thee, were not at all." There is a wealth of information in those three sentences.
Regardless of our attempts to annihilate it, emptiness rears its head time and again. That irrepressible void we feel in life is impervious to whatever powers of human nature we might employ in an effort to eradicate it: emptiness seems an incurable plague on our existence. Some would even conclude that to be human is to be empty, which unleashes a host of other dreaded feelings, such as incompleteness, hopelessness, insecurity, unhappiness, uncertainty, and so forth. However, although we often act as if emptiness is our archenemy, I suggest it is not. On the contrary, it might be more accurate to view it as a friend.
To Whom Does Emptiness Lead?
It is of crucial importance to ask these questions: "From where does this emptiness I experience come?" and "Why cannot I subdue it?" Catholic anthropology, which is the study of the truth about the human person informed by reason and the light of faith, points to God's revelation as providing the definitive key to unlocking the mystery of emptiness. If we want to understand who man is, why emptiness is a universal experience of humankind, we need look to man's Creator: God. To say that "God is Creator," really says it all.
Consider, for a moment, man as a creator. When man creates (fashions something from existing material), he does so to fulfill some intended purpose or need, whether it be entertainment, pleasure, financial gain, personal expression, societal benefit, etc. When man creates, he does so to add something to himself from outside of himself, something which he perceives will bring some good to himself or to others. When man creates to bring good to others, it becomes one of his highest acts of creating, and as such mirrors the divine Other who, in his unsurpassable wisdom, chose to make man.
God created man, the crowning glory of his material creation, out of a superabundance of love: our glorious Father did not make man because he is lacking something within himself or because he is in need of anything outside of himself. God does not create out of a need for his own fulfillment, for he is infinitely perfect and lacking nothing within himself. God freely chose to create man in order to pour forth his own infinite and boundless love, which is ultimately accomplished by offering man an indescribable and priceless gift: a share in God's own supernatural life. The supreme act of God's love is, of course, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, an infinite sacrifice of love for the sake of humankind. Christ crucified reveals the unimaginable force of love by which God draws man to ...
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