January: Blankness as Spiritual Exercise
Once upon a time there was a blank wall at the front of the chapel. (Maybe you’ve noticed it.) In the time since I’ve arrived at Chalice, we’ve taken down the congregational banner, removed the curtains, and filled in the windows. Now it’s just a blank, blank wall.
Many of you have asked me what we’re going to put there. The assumption is that a blank wall needs filling.
I understand the desire to fill the space. You sit for an hour each week facing that blank wall. And our worship space is important. We come to worship seeking nourishment of the spirit and comfort for the soul. A beautiful worship space helps feed us, just as our music, our readings, our candles, our holding hands…all these feed us. Our blank wall calls out for art, for texture, for color, for shape. We yearn for something visual to enhance our worship life.
But we’re going to keep the wall blank for a bit, and I invite you to welcome this blankness as a spiritual exercise. Let yourself feel anticipation. Recognize that absence is its own gift, spaciousness. Let your imagination run. What could we do with that blank wall? Open your heart to possibilities. Consider that sometimes we need to pause before the next sentence, take a breath before the next song. The pause, the breath…these have meaning and beauty too.
Just as laying on the couch doing nothing is wonderful, just as an empty room is wonderful, just as a blank page is wonderful, our blank wall is wonderful.
And now that it is January, I invite you to consider the year ahead. What will this year bring? Recognize that unknowingness is its own gift, spaciousness. Let your imagination run. What will you do with the year ahead of you?
Don’t rush to fill your year with commitments and activities (and you probably have plenty of those left over from last year anyway). So no to some familiar activities, leave room for something new. Let yourself feel anticipation. Open your heart to possibilities.
Just as our blank wall is an invitation to pause and consider what comes next, let this new year be an invitation too. Pause. Rest. Lay on the couch. And then consider what you want next. Is it more color in your life? More texture? More art? More shape? Consider what you yearn for, and what you might want to let go of.
And remember, there’s no rush to fill the space.
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