I am going to keep you in my sights with this singular, winsome, unblinking eye of an empty bottom of a juice pot. I don't want you to shift away leaving me in an empty room with my thoughts regarding empty. I have much to say to you about emptiness, yours, mine, ours and theirs.
The word empty was not significant enough to be recorded into the written English language until as late as the 12th century. How did one say one's pot was empty, one's glass, one's house and one's hopes prior to the time of late Medieval England? Try and take empty out of your vocabulary. Would that mean you only had fullness left? Empty came late to the written page and rushed to fill a void in a world where empty meant starvation, death or simple-mindedness. Empty's usefulness carried a rickety, wooden cartload of sad and dire consequences. Empty still stalks the cooking pots of much of the world. Empty works too hard.
Some of my days are spent sorting through the diatribe of a houseful of people. Not many years ago there were three teenagers, a husband, a wife, one dog and four cats. My house was not empty. You have seen those images of Americans with their rooms filled with stuff while a third-world family can pile their belongings in a calf-high pile in front of their feet. Empty couldn't find a corner to stand in at my house. Empty left in a huff, warning that it would return in full one day. Empty is back now. With great dignity it fills corners, emptying closets and cabinets, moving boxes off of the wooden floors and sweeping knickknacks from surfaces. The orderliness of the home feels more peaceful with fewer belongings. I must admit that empty was only welcomed back in slow motion. I remember the day some time after Gary's passing, when I was finally ready to take his bathrobes off of the hook on the bedroom door and give the robes to his son. I washed them, but then the empty hooks seemed so lonely, that I moved empty aside and hung the robes again. A few months more passed and then empty was finally welcomed to hang it's hats on those hooks.
Empty nest, empty handed, emptiness. We worry about them before they arrive. I began to welcome empty back into my life one handshake at a time. Not that empty held any great fear for me, but it carries a wicked reputation. Empty for me is a little like that empty grape juice pot staring at you. Moments before the steamer pot carried sweet dark grape juice. Now it carries the reflection of the sky and my shadow, the sheen of purple juice and a couple of small bubbles. The pot will be brought back into the house. To be filled again. Empty precedes full and full precedes empty. And will do so again and again.
Those little bubbles in the pot, the fall air scented with dust, my reflection while I lean over to take the photo, the humor of seeing a pot as an eye are the fullness's that greet me from an empty pot. I make a choice to see an empty pot filled with possibilities. I don't let empty discourage me. I cherish empty and its illusions while it lasts. And it won't last.
If I had a pot with the last drop of water available and simply no prospect of filling it again, than that is the empty with the bad reputation. But many of our empties are not as dire as we think that they will be. Granted if I had no water, no food, no cover from weather and no way to refill those things, that is a difficult empty. It is an empty with no choice. We fear empty when we think that we have no choice.
The previous June when I returned from traveling for many months, I came in looking for empty. Not because I was worried about it, but because I was looking for it's company. The quiet of empty has let me mull over what full might look like again. As I approach the date when I fled home last year with my belongings tucked into a car and a car top carrier, I will have come a full year. The appreciation of having fewer things, of having emptier surfaces greets me daily. Empty is good. As the house fills again with guests and friends, empty sits by and watches before it arises and leaves smiling. As good and worthy company laughs with me, sends messages, challenges my perceptions and fills in dates on my calendar, empty moves out waving. I may miss it. But it will be back one day, offering new visions with its inquisitive steely gaze.