Written by Jodi Pace

The sliding doors opened; the ICU hospital room was empty. The constant beeping of alarms fell silent, the wires rolled back to their original location. The bed stripped. The IV fluid and medication discontinued; the breathing machine unplugged. Emptiness lulled in the air along with uncertainty, heart ache, and fear.  As a nurse, I have too often had to tell family and friends that the room is empty, your loved one is no longer here. Through the tears caused by an empty room, I’ve seen relationships form, community grow, and pain ease. We often associate emptiness with sadness and doubt when in reality it’s a chance to catch our breath, reflect on our experiences, and open our hearts for even greater possibilities. The difficulty of losing someone rushes us to grief. We are exploded with emotion, often anger and frustration. If we allowed ourselves to be empty, find the peace in an empty tomb, we could find the joy in the beginning of something wonderful.

Mark 16 verse 6 tells us “Do not be alarmed, Jesus is risen, he is not here.” Mary and Martha were afraid. “They ran trembling and bewildered, the women fled from the tomb, they said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.” We’re afraid to find ourselves empty because we are worried we won’t be able to find something else that fills us up the way we are used to.

Emptiness should not be feared; it should be embraced. The goal of meditation is to find an empty space, a chance to start anew. A chance to welcome change, an opportunity to fill ourselves with patience and grace, and not the usual anger, so often triggered by fear. We have so much available to us, even at our fingertips, that emptiness is unknown and considered a negative emotion when we should view it as refueling our tank. When King David was scared and knew he was in over his head, he offered his “broken spirit”, and God forgave him (Psalm 51:17). David was empty, and humbly renewed his faith.

Our schedules are FULL, soccer, gymnastics, swim and scouts consume our week, lodged between full time jobs which never seem to stop even after hanging up the lab coat for the day.  Everyone tells me “I’ll miss these days” when ironically each day seems to be busier and more chaotic than the day before. If I allowed myself to feel empty, would I be able to appreciate the toddler giggles and the Hot Wheels in my shoes? If I came to Jesus with a broken spirit and an empty soul, instead of wish lists and complaints, would I be able to hear His forgiveness, His comfort? Allow yourself to sit in the silence, to unplug, to not have the urge to fill the void. Do not be afraid of an empty room, an empty tomb, for there are greater possibilities ahead. Healing follows emptiness. Growth follows fear.