A Culture of Emptiness

Within himself, St. Francis created
a culture of emptiness,
an empty space for God to fill.
To become empty,
we need to do nothing,
need to press the pause bottom
on our society’s addictive need to be productive,
to always be doing something.

I think we need to create
a culture of emptiness
more than Francis did,
as modern life is
so filled with busyness,
so cluttered with unfiltered information
tirelessly generated by the media and the internet,
so over-stimulated by
a dizzying array of electronic gadgets,
so pressured by the allure
of nonstop advertising,
and so driven by productiveness,
we are almost incapable of stillness
and can’t tolerate silence.
It was in stillness and silence
that Francis forged
his inner cloister of emptiness
and flamed his desire for God.

For Francis, his form of monasticism
had no walls,
for the world was his cloister;
but he was diligent
in periodically retreating
to places of solitude
where he could be renewed
and find a clear sense of direction
for his forays into the wider world
of activity and human commerce.

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2 Responses to “A Culture of Emptiness”


  1. 1 James Sedwick October 3, 2015 at 7:19 am

    I think the two phrases that strike me the most: “need to be productive” and “unfiltered information tirelessly generated”, the former always a pursuer.

  2. 2 krebsjoan October 3, 2015 at 8:56 am

    This being October w/liturgical/cultural remembrances of varying and contrasting pulls/pushes, the phrase “the world was his cloister” certainly impresses itself although “monasticism” certainly doesn’t. Silence and noise each nourish me as do grey skies and breath-taking sunrises/sets. Time and place each together clamor for meditative contemplation in silent reverie or while on the road to grocery-shop. As Baruch said in today’s liturgy, “I fostered them in joy.” Then in “lamenting & mourning I let them go.” The world is my cloister. Even St. Therese of Lisieux declared her “heaven” would be “spent in doing good on earth.” Yes, the world, the earth is my cloister. Thanks for that, Gerry..


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