The Big Empty

A tree stump with a black center.

Image by Still Unique Photography

Have you ever felt that something was missing but you didn’t know what it was? I call it The Big Empty. It’s that feeling of unfulfillment, dissatisfaction, and unease. It is just under your skin and it covers your whole body. It oozes its way deeper and deeper within, making you feel like you are sinking into a black hole of quicksand. There is a sense of lack, and a feeling of need but you aren’t able to figure out what is missing. It is a scary feeling, and you don’t want to get too close to it because you are afraid it will suck you in and suffocate you. For a little while, you carefully walk around the perimeter keeping your distance from the edge trying to figure out want will fill the hole. But the hole is expanding and you need to do something. If you are like me, you just want to get as far away from the hole, the discomfort, the tension, and the fear as possible. We all have our ways of doing this. Some of us use food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping or any number of pacifiers, painkillers, or numbing agents. Usually, we are able to back away from the hole and ease our tension…. for a while.

If we think back, most of us can remember feeling this way in childhood. We may even remember the first time we felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under us by someone we trusted. Maybe we remember times when we needed love, compassion, protection, and understanding and we didn’t receive it. Maybe we remember being judged and criticized by those who were supposed to love and nurture us. There are any number of possible bullets we took to the heart that created this hole; and ever since then we have been trying to patch it up.

For those of us who feel like The Big Empty pretty much runs our lives, we have analyzed this hole from every conceivable angle, trying to figure out a way to fill it up. We’ve tried changing our environment, our relationships, and ourselves all to no avail. We even may have worked up enough courage to do nothing, thinking that if we don’t feed it with pacifiers, painkillers, or numbing agents, it will implode on itself and vanish for good. What we have found, however, is that The Big Empty may disappear for a time, but it eventually it reopens, leaving us right back where we started.

Having exhausted all possible options this world has to offer, we decide to look elsewhere, perhaps into options we’ve never considered before, options that are beyond us and beyond our understanding. When we begin to contemplate the Presence that created both the rose bud and the universe, we realize that we fit somewhere in between those two. We will come to understand that this Presence and Power has created all that is out of Itself. And since we are a part of All That Is, we are part of this Presence and Power. If we continue on this path, we will find our way home, just like the Prodigal Son. We will find that that which is us and is within us, has filled us, creating a beautiful wholeness where our Big Empty used to be.

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