Empty Spaces of Life

19 Aug

Two wonderful poems to share today about the emptiness where life lives. Sometimes we feel saddened by the empty spaces–a sense of loss takes hold, whether the loss is about things or opportunities or ideas or loved ones. If we can be with that feeling long enough, without judging it and hating it, even letting it go, we let the magic and wonder emerge from the emptiness.

Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel,
But it is the center hole
That allows the wheel to function.
We mold clay into a pot,
But it is the emptiness inside
That makes the vessel useful.
We fashion wood for a house,
But it is the emptiness inside
That makes it livable.
We work with the substantial,
But the emptiness is what we use.
— Lao Tzu

And, shared with me by a dear friend recently:


What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.

Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would. 

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood. 

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that makes the fire possible. 

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire grows
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its own way.
- Judy Brown
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Posted by on August 19, 2009 in poetry


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