One of the core concepts that draws me to Christianity and inspires my spiritual walk today is its integration of both fullness and emptiness, a theme that is on full display during the Lenten season. We find fullness in the metaphor of baptism and emptiness in the proverbial wilderness.
As Vatican Council II stated, “the two elements which are especially characteristic of Lent” are the “recalling of baptism or the preparation for it, and penance.”
It’s interesting to me that in the Gospels we find these themes in back-to-back stories: when Jesus is baptized and is then tempted by the devil in the wilderness. It’s as if the text is screaming at us that we need to understand the fullness of our identity, just as Jesus did at his baptism, so that we can experience the freedom of being emptied, just as Jesus practiced in the wilderness. It’s as if the text is subtly telling us that, just as both of these events occurred before Jesus’ ministry even began, we also need to come back to the fullness of our identity and the emptying of our egos, time and time again, before we ever try to attempt anything else—that our doing must flow from being or else we’ll try to find our salvation in what we accomplish.
It is the fullness of our spirit that empowers us to be emptied in our souls—of our consuming desires and ego attachments that arise within our hearts and minds and make us miserable. And it is the emptying of our souls that makes a clear path back to our core inner truths residing in the fullness of spirit...