FAITH – A Perceptible Emptiness
Speaking now of Faith as one of the three Theological Virtues, and not the faith one has in one’s youthful strength or good health or strong will or financial independence. Such faith has little to do with God and much to do with one’s erroneous confidence in one’s self and in the all the delights and comforts one has surrounded one’s self with through either one’s own efforts or by inheritance. No, I am speaking of that Faith which makes itself known when one has come face to face with the Cross of Interior Emptiness and does not flee.
In our usual ordinary way of thinking, our brain does the work of connecting us with instantaneous solutions to various stages ofdiscomfort, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. If we are cold, a sweater is at hand that we automatically reach for. If we are depressed, a pill is at hand to automatically relieve us. If we are lonesome, facebook fills that void with the touch of a keyboard log-in. We associate these automatic solutions as us just being US…ours…our own…belonging to US. This part of “US” is the domain of the ego which understands that it’swork is to provide satisfaction to the US we believe ourselves to be and to restore our peace as quickly as possible by re-establishing the status-quo.
Now, if one has been observing the Spiritual Practice of Meditation, a surprisingly new Awareness may have arisen. Between the thought and the action of its resolution, there is this barely noticeable, momentary void. A Perceivable moment of emptiness. In the gap of this emptiness, if one be still enough, all things of life and eternity are present. But it is not a presence that our ordinary senses can perceive. On the contrary, this “presence” makes our ordinary senses seek relief and escape, rather than perception. But, this emptiness as “presence” is perceptible to our higher and much more finely-tuned spiritual senses. It is here where many of us first become aware of our true spiritual poverty. If we do not run from it or end our Meditation session pre-maturely, we are given the valuable opportunity to look into the abyss of our fearful and frightened, ego-identified, false self (sometimes called our lower self). And even just that momentary glimpse can terrify us. I believe it is the reason why a lot of people do not take up Mediation as a Spiritual Practice. They fear the stilling of their ever-active, ever over-stimulated thoughts. They fear they will not know who they are without them as the constant, ready proof that they are alive.
Returning now to the Emptiness…. In the fraction of a second between the thought and its connection to other thoughts or acts, this emptiness is extremely important to note. If one is self-aware and proceeding toward Christian Maturity, one may then begin to observe that even after one’s Meditation session has ended, there can now be ordinary daily moments when this “gap of emptiness” becomes spiritually perceptible. As one learns to let go of thoughts more and more even in one’s waking hours, that gap lengthens. And with years and Grace, one finds one’s home more and more within the gap, rather than distracted from this blessed and sacred emptiness by thoughts of entertainment, the phone or the internet. What is this spiritually perceptible emptiness? For me, it is Faith. Why? Because whenever I have found myself in a crisis – whether health related or other – and have exhausted all my own best efforts to resolve it to no avail, there It Is…that same perceptible emptiness. That utter sense of my own helpless-ness whispering terror to my senses. In that very instant, it is Faith alone that tells me to Surrender. To humbly present myself to the Lord knowing my need for His assistance and my dependence upon His Grace. I know if I can learn the lessons of Faith offered me in Meditation, then I can also learn to understand the value of Faith in practice. And the amazing Grace it offers! As St. John of the Cross once said, we must “learn to be at home in the darkness”.
Today, with God’s Grace, I will consciously develop the capacity to remain in Faith. I will not seek to fill in the gaps of the day with frivolous entertainment to distract me from this precious emptiness wherein I shall make my Home.