The weight of emptiness

20170804_165709One week and two days.

That’s how long it was between my last two Examen entries. And on each of those in-between days, I doodled around more than usual with games on my phone, checked Facebook and my emails pretty frequently, and watched too many TV reruns. I sporadically cleaned up the kitchen, did a few loads of laundry, and tried to keep my studio from looking like a boy’s bedroom. But nothing to write home about, as my Dad would say.

My knee still hurts, some days more than others, and I’ve felt trapped, not being able to move around like I’m used to. I’m not complaining about this – there are plenty of people who suffer from disabilities, wounds, and even simple aches and pains much worse than mine. I’m just sayin’ that it hurts like the dickens, sometimes, and I can’t move about with wild abandon. So even a reasonable to-do-list makes me tired.

I’ve been snacking too much, so I feel a little more fluffy than usual. Fluffy … a euphemism that doesn’t fool anyone, but I can’t even think about the real word.

Good golly, Miss Molly. Bleah… as Snoopy would say.

So it wasn’t a mystery to me, when I returned to pen, journal, and deep questions, reflecting on those past few days, that my answers would be deep, too.

My thanks circle included recent times when I enjoyed the graciousness of others. But my felt emotions square listed sluggish, guilty, ashamed, anxious, looking forward to, concerned. And my requests for forgiveness, protection, and wisdom all focused on being sluggish, guilty, ashamed, anxious. 

Why am I startled when, as I journal these prayers, something powerful happens? Even my most heartfelt mental or even verbal prayers spoken in private don’t have the same effect. It happens to those of us who don’t always understand ourselves until we spill our souls out onto the page.

And something powerful DID happen. As I worked through Question 4 – Choose one feature from the day (or in my case, week) and pray from it – something turned from foggy to bright:

I’m really glad that I’m doing this today.
The days I miss carry a weight of emptiness –
it feels heavier because something is missing. 

Wow. When my connection with Jesus is missing or thin, the absence is more than I can carry.

Ed Cyzewski (one of my all-time fav’s who promotes, teaches, and writes about contemplative prayer and writing) said it this way on his blog :

I can tell when I have missed time practicing contemplative prayer, but I can’t exactly tell you what the “results” of contemplative prayer are. They are difficult to quantify, such as a greater awareness of myself and of God. These aren’t the typical measuring sticks that evangelicals are used to in their talks about spiritual growth and holiness.

I love it.

As some of you know, I was a teacher for a while and feel very strongly about data (again, bleah) and how we used the results of little ridiculous tests to demonstrate student success and how, why, and where they needed “intervention.” As if we could analyze an academic snapshot and solve every problem. (More about that here, if you want to read about me stamping my feet about dumb stuff.)

No. No. NO!!! I will never agree with the philosophy that if you can’t scientifically measure and quantify something, it is either wrong or has no value.

When I didn’t spend time with my students, getting to know them and what they needed, what made them tick and how life at home affected them… when I did not get to the deep part of them, I didn’t do a very good job of helping them be better people. That’s not a statistic. That’s a fact.

And, my lovelies, when I don’t spend time with Jesus, my days are not the same. I can’t tell you the results, except in terms of my sluggish and anxious emotions. But I can tell you that on the days I’m with Him in the morning, I feel much more prepared to face and beat back those feelings of being an anxious slug.

Each day, when I finish writing the words of my prayer, I lay my hands flat on the pages and pray for a word from Jesus – a verse to capture what we talked about.

As you can see, it was Philippians 1:6: “…He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Even when I feel anxious, sluggish, worthless, and fluffy, the sweet words of Jesus prevail. Every single time. They remind me that, even when the weight of emptiness pulls me back or knocks me down, I’ll make it. I am claiming once again today that God will finish what He started in me.


I will never agree that if you can’t measure or quantify something, it is wrong or useless. Click to Tweet


  1. Love what you say and do.

    Love, Mom

    On Sat, Aug 5, 2017 at 4:48 PM, Nancy Burton Wolfe wrote:

    > Nancy Burton Wolfe posted: “One week and two days. That’s how long it was > between my last two Examen entries. And on each of those in-between days, I > doodled around more than usual with games on my phone, checked Facebook and > my emails pretty frequently, and watched too many TV r” >


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