BY FR ANTHONY NDANG NDICHIA MHM
One of the great miracles of nature is how the pregnant womb, small in itself, expands little by little to make room for the growing life within.
Emptiness is part of human experience. Sometimes it can be seen as pain, yet it can be treated as a gift. I need emptiness in me: that space for something new; to be opened to wonder and surprises from God.
Just as our bodies breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, so too do our spirits need to take in what is life-giving and empty out what is not helpful for us. A pot which is full cannot receive. Even the soil has to be ready to receive the seed (Mk 4:1-20).
When our minds are filled up, there is no room for the otherness, no room for the new and unexpected, and no room for surprises of God. Openness to God could be one of the brave steps to empty any anything that might be blocking our spiritual growth and freedom. There is a space within us that is waiting to be filled with the radiance of God.
I empty my dustbin and after a few days it’s filled with scrap papers. I clear my table, arrange it well, and next week it will be even messier. There is something always waiting to be sorted and discarded.
This is also true of our spiritual life. There are many things we can discard: resentment, anxiety, harsh judgments, self-pity, mistrust, breaking a vow, an addiction and so on.
Negative thoughts, useless fears, worries, old wounding messages and so on also take up a lot of space.
These leave no room for God’s agenda of growth, knowledge, love, beauty or pleasure.
Moses prepared himself to receive revelations from God: “Remove the sandals from your feet for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (Ex 3:1-6). What shoes do we need to remove in order to embrace the grace of God?
For God to enter our lives fully, we must be ready to create space: longing opens the heart to receive (Psalm 63). The door to our inner self, heart, and mind must be opened: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be” (Mt 6:21). God needs openings in our lives to get through to us, to communicate with us, to stretch us to greater growth, to nourish us, to revitalise and renew us with love.
When we pray, how often do we say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”? Often we rather say: “Listen, Lord, your servant is speaking”.
If my life is clouded, cluttered with many thoughts and feelings, I may easily miss what God wants me to hear. Listening is key for our spiritual growth. To do this we need to open our minds and hearts, empty what blocks our way, create space and await God’s voice into our lives.
In ministry or community, when we listen attentively we discover God everywhere, within the people.
“Let me hear what God will speak, for God will speak peace to the people, to those who turn to God in their hearts” (Psalm 85:1-8).
Our spiritual life is a constant cycle of emptying and filling, of dying and rising, of accepting and letting go. The process of creating space for something new may be painful, yet it leads us to yearn for God, to appreciate our life with greater reverence and gratitude.
If we shake off the power, the prestige and possessions, then our spirit will be freer to thirst for the deeper things of God.
When we create space for something new, we receive: peace of mind and heart, healing of old wounds, greater acceptance of ourselves, discovery of who we truly are, harmony with our families and colleagues, wisdom to make good choices and decisions, forgiveness of ourselves and others, freedom and spiritual growth, reverence for life, willingness to hear God’s voice.
Fr Anthony Ndang Ndichia MHM is a missionary priest assisting in Our Lady of Assumption parish in Sasolburg, Kroonstad diocese.