Week 15: Fallow Time

by | Dec 18, 2018

Christmas tree

I returned to Australia a few days ago, but I find that this time of sabbatical is continuing. So many rich experiences. Such generous hospitality extended to me. So much to ponder and integrate. And so, I continue with my postings on “Border Crossings.”

I woke early, just as the darkness was fading. A cool summer’s morning with heavy cloud. Silent but not silent. The breeze is blowing, the birds are twittering, an occasional car can be heard passing in the distance.

I woke early, aware of the invitation to emptiness. But not a hollow emptiness, rather a full emptiness, strange as that may sound. I carry with me the vivid images of the bare branches of the winter trees in Llandudno, Manchester and Bristol, that I walked beside just a few days ago And I am sitting opposite our Christmas tree. Multiple branches collected from around the park outside our apartment, felled by the recent storm, also denuded of leaves, tied in a bunch and placed in a bucket of sand, then decorated with a simple strand of lights and assorted Christmas ornaments collected over the past 36 years of married life, topped with a star obtained a month ago from the Leister Square Christmas Markets. There is a rather appealing beauty in both the bare trees in north west Wales and the decorated branches in our home on the east coast of Australia.

As I ponder the invitation of emptiness this morning, other words come to mind: blank, deserted, desolate, devoid, hollow and unfulfilled. Vacant, abandoned, clear, deflated. Depleted, exhausted, forsaken, void. Destitute, stark unfurnished. And each of these words in turn evoke a whole lexicon of their own, inviting me deeper and deeper into the gift, the richness, the fullness of emptiness. Somehow, this dwelling in emptiness is an invitation to fallow time and the gift of this Advent, for me in 2018.

I gaze upon the manger for the Christ child, lying empty in our Christmas crib, waiting for what is to be birthed. I gaze, I linger, I wait in this empty yet full space. I wait in this fallow time. I give thanks for bare branches of winter trees, storm stripped boughs and empty mangers.

manger sculpture

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