Emptier and Fuller

wide space.jpg

Some people have full but empty lives. Others enjoy a relatively ‘small’ life but enjoy a satisfyingly full world. Some want fuller, richer lives. Other will be putting a simpler, ‘lesser’ life on their New Year wish list.

Ann Voskamp’s almost new classic ‘One Thousand Gifts’ (2010) has a chapter entitled, An Emptier Fuller Life. She puts out a dare for us to lead emptier but fuller lives. I am at that point in my life.  I understand where her train of thought is headed.

Unfortunately, our culture places so much emphasis on the outward expressions or activities that appear to make up a full life. We worry about people who don’t go out much, who enjoy loads of solitude or who just aren’t very talkative. We encourage them to join a group or, in our case, attend one of our community meals.

Often I can find myself dragging others into my world – rather than meeting them in theirs.

“Our disasters come from letting nothing live for itself, from the longing we have to pull everything, even friends into ourselves, and let nothing alone.” Robert Bly


Our community groups, social programs and churches can exercise a heavy-handed arm twist to get participants into a ‘third place’ that is of our making and might not be a place of safety or comfort for the participant.

Hannes and I offered a Christmas Brunch as usual this year at our kitchen space at Karis Place. Many of our friends had gone to family and friends for Christmas Day. There were only about 25-30 who sat down for the meal. We had no carols, no entertainment, no special Christmas gifts…..just a table brimming with great food.  Smoked salmon on toast, salads, eggs with hollandaise and a host of other foods. It really was a good spread. But for me it wasn’t enough. I wanted the music, the sparkles and the trimmings.  But Hannes knew it was enough.  He demonstrated that Voskamp-like fullness in simplicity.  He made it simple and family style – noting that of the guests had enough of all the trimmings and wanted a quiet morning.

A community that can work towards developing spaces that are full and yet empty of excess is the challenge. Perhaps it will allow love in its purest form to triumph and not the ‘toys’.