The family happened to be all occupied. With what, I’m not sure, but it was calm and I decided to try slipping onto the porch without being missed. I grabbed a few quick supplies: drink, phone (always), book, and pencil and headed out to the swing camp chair. The pencil — I’m pretty sure my eldest found it on the ground somewhere in our neighborhood (she has a knack for that) — is a yellow mechanical pencil, fairly beaten up as if someone chewed it or it was run over a few times in the park lot. Despite its base beginnings, this little utensil has become my favorite accessory for reading. For whatever reason, I’m able to approximate straight lines under the printed text and not through it. Perhaps it’s that it has a finer point than most of my pens and it makes me feel more precise. I’m sure it also helps that, precise or not, it’s a fainter line and I have the option of erasing if I accidentally cross through the meaningful text (as I’ve been known to do).
The book I’d grabbed, the title like a prayer, is one I’d ordered a decade ago off of a syllabus from a course I never took. I have many such books, including a handful of books on sex (manuals, really) for a course I did take, but the syllabus had changed and the manuals were no longer required. Still, they’ve survived a few book purges, because hey, who knows? They could be useful somehow, like this book, The Awakened Heart, that beckoned to me a few weeks ago after realizing how many walls I’d built up around my tired, weary heart.
That day on the porch with those stolen moments, I’d read a chapter called “Entering the Emptiness.”
“This is a secret known by those who have had the courage to face their own emptiness. The secret of being in love, of falling in love with life as it is meant to be, is to befriend our yearning instead of avoiding it, to live into our longing rather than trying to resolve it, to enter the spaciousness of our emptiness instead of trying to fill it up,” I underlined.
If The Awakened Heart is my prayer for the year, then Entering into the Emptiness is my prayer for all of this corona-emptiness.
Christ have mercy. Amen.