In My Emptiness You are Present

I’m bad about shopping for books. I cannot stop in a bookstore without rummaging through the religion/faith section. If a book looks good, I’ll purchase it in hopes of reading it some day. Sometimes, I’ll start the new book the same evening, pushing other books back in the queue, and finish the book. Sometimes, I’ll start it and then stop a few pages or a chapter or two into it. (This method is probably not a very good one. It is a bad habit and is symptom of our culture.)

That’s what happened with John Kirvan’s, God Hunger: Discovering the Mystic in All of Us. I had started it, then sat it aside months ago. I picked it again the other day, and my bookmark was left on this very page. The timing is perfect considering my post last week.

This hunger is better than any other fullness;
this poverty better than all other wealth. (C.S. Lewis)

God comes to us not as food but as hunger, not as presence but as distance felt, not as fulfillment but as longing, not as love consumated but as desire enkindled.

God does not take away our loneliness but intensifies it.

God does not answer our questions but floods our souls with ever-expanding mystery.

God does not soothe that “old ache” but deepens it.

God does not open the door but prompts us to go on knocking.

For our hunger is a joyful longing.

Our hunger is God made present.

This is a hard paradox to hold, that God is in the emptiness, that hunger is better than fullness. I know that nothing in this world will satisfy my hunger for God, for union and communion, for love, but this hunger is joyful? It sounds like a Beatitude.

My false self wants to walk around this paradox, but my true self knows that it is true. I feel like Peter and the other disciples after Jesus had told them about eating his flesh and drinking his blood in John 6. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Kirvan adds this prayer on the next page:

Do not take away the hunger of my soul
      or let me fill it with spiritual trifles,
      ready to hand, sweet to the taste,
      but good for only a moment’s satisfaction.
Deepen my hunger.
Enkindle my desire.
Come to me in the longing in my heart,
      for in my emptiness you are present.

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