No one has to teach us to inhale. It’s instinct. So strong, in fact, that the very first act we perform on this earth is a great, frantic grasp for air.
However, exhaling is something most of us do badly. Or, at least, incompletely. Yoga instructors spend a great deal of time teaching students to slowly and completely empty their lungs. Creating space for air requires great purpose. Filling it does not.
Life looks very like that sometimes…
I am a threshold kind of girl. I love reflecting, evaluating, dreaming, setting goals. I always do this at the threshold of the New Year. But this year it has been difficult. As I have pondered new challenges and activities, they have felt like so much clutter.
Inspired by the OneWord365 project, I thought perhaps I would instead select a word to give shape to the coming months. But this too eluded me. I read posts from others who had selected their words–words like Choose, Begin, Discover. I loved them! I tried to
steal borrow their words. But none of them fit.
On Monday night our priest came to bless our home. As we were talking afterward, he shared with us a concern that has been on his heart of late. He talked of how we constantly seek to fill ourselves, when what is required of us as followers of Christ is that we be emptied. In fact, it is impossible to pour into a container that is already full. But emptying is much more difficult, more unnatural, than filling.
Just like breathing.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this. And the longer I pondered, the more I knew that I had found my word. The word that tied together the random longings that have been swirling round in my heart. That bristled every time I tried to decide what I was going to add to my life this year.
I am only beginning to imagine what this will look like for me over the next twelve months. But here are a few places where I hope the word will have its way with me…
To stand silent and empty before God. Without demand, without pretense, without excuse, without words. To be still. To be with. It is harder than it should be. For me. But I am learning. A little.
To empty myself of arrogance and self-sufficiency. To walk humbly with others. Most especially with my family. And close friends.
To empty my life of clutter. Frivolous pursuits (ie: the black hole of the internet, mostly), Items I no longer use (which could benefit another, and occupy space in my home), Things I might like to buy (or that might be a really good deal) but I don’t need, etc…
It scares me a little. This idea of seeking to be emptied. Quite frankly, I have always seen emptiness as something to be fixed. But I believe it is the next right step.