Most of us have been acquainted with emptiness at some point. It may be from a breakup, a severed friendship, grief over a loved one’s death, despair brought on by depression, job loss, chronic pain, physical or emotional trauma, and major disappointments. None of us are alone in these experiences but, in the moment, we feel certain we are.
Some of us may even long for emptiness when our hearts and minds are fragmented and exhausted, when our lives are crowded by expectation, need, fear, and anxiety. We can’t shut our thoughts down, can’t quiet them, can’t escape them. We feel imprisoned by our own brains. Our dreams shrivel.
That empty ache can be a warning that God is being squeezed out of us, that the Holy Spirit in us is being crushed under care and worry. Driven to distraction, we can’t quiet ourselves enough to hear Jesus speaking to our hearts, inviting us to surrender, inviting us to meet him in a place apart.
What if the emptiness is an invitation?
When I think of the word empty, the image that comes to mind is open hands. There are times when we feel like we have nothing to offer God, our friends, our boss, our family, our ministry. It’s a glass half empty/half full situation. What if those empty hands are telling us that we can empty ourselves of comparison, shame, anger, envy, guilt? What if Jesus is calling us to empty ourselves in order to fit in more of him?
Augustine put it like this, “My soul is like a house, small for you to enter, but I pray you to enlarge it. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it. It contains much that you will not be pleased to see: this I know and do not hide. But who is to rid it of these things? There is no one but you.”
Augustine also said, “God gives where he finds empty hands.”
We’re gathering women together to acknowledge and talk about the emptiness we have in common and to challenge one another to dig deep and empty ourselves so that Christ may take up more room in our hearts. There must be more of him and less of us. Let’s learn how to receive. Let’s get empty for Jesus.
Join us in Chicago for spoken-word poetry, workshops, worship, teaching, art, and fellowship!
Friday night: Poet Sarah Giove and speaker Chi Chi Okwu, worship, dessert reception.
Saturday: Itohan Omolere will be our spoken-word poet and Tracey Bianchi will be speaking. Diana Shiflett will be leading a workshop on spiritual formation. We will be having 3 workshop tracks: Social Justice, Faith, and Art. (The Illustrated Faith workshop has a $10 supply fee.)
Deeply Rooted is a two-day faith and creativity gathering for women in Chicago, sponsored by Wilson Abbey and Jesus People USA. Registration is $50 or pay what you can. Scholarships will be available as well.
The ticket price includes 3 speaker sessions, 2 workshops, and the dessert reception on Friday night. The catered lunch with speakers is $12.