How I’m making room for the essentials

“Emptiness precedes fullness” – Richard Rohr

I walked along Mission Bay, the sun shining warm on my face. The air was still and cool. It was quiet and I was breathing in the last moments of my personal retreat; 48 hours by myself to reflect on the past year and begin this new year with intention.

Mission Bay

As I walked, I reminded myself,

Pay attention. 

As with most things, I tried too hard, as if I could will myself to find some obscure, undiscovered moment there with the fisherman, the couple in the kayaks, the woman at the picnic table. I decided to stop trying, and just sit on a bench and enjoy the beauty for a few minutes instead.


My mind drifted, and It was then, that I started noticing:

The sacred space I felt I was interrupting as I watched the fisherman throw his line out and reel it back in empty.


The way the current flowed in ripples toward the shore and the slightest little breeze change the shape of the ripples and the flow of the current ever so slightly.

The way my mind settled and my heart followed with ease as I sat without the weight of expectation heavy and thick.

Emptiness precedes fullness.

As I pondered those words from my perspective on the bench, looking back over the themes of my life and my soul during the past year, I recognized them as pivotal, almost prophetic.

On my birthday, I wrote this post about how I wanted to spend the next 365 days living intentionally. I wrote that I might have to say “no” to some things in order to say “yes” to some other things. Emptiness precedes fullness.

You see, as long as my calendar is packed with appointments, I won’t have time for activities that slow my mind down enough to do the things that matter – like making sure I’m working toward my goals at work and at home. Or investing in that person who really needs me to walk with them.

I can control my calendar.

As long as my to-do list is packed with more things than I can possibly fit into 16 hours, I won’t have time or more importantly, the emotional capacity, to sit and have a conversation with my husband, a friend, a family member.

I can reduce my to-do list. Some things are not essential.

As long as my heart is filled with striving and longing and wishing for the next best thing, I’ll have no room for really seeing or sensing what God is doing in my heart right now… how he wants me to take these moments, what he’s put in my hands now, and make something with them.

I can be settled, grounded and spacious.

In order to live intentionally, I have to create empty spaces that are free and open to be filled by the things that are truly essential. It isn’t easy. It won’t be easy. Saying “no” is hard sometimes. But I believe in the end, it will be well worth it.

Are you like me, cluttering up your calendar and your soul with stuff that’s not essential? Do you feel like you’re running to the next and the next and the next thing? Take this journey with me. Carve out some time. Sit awhile and discover what’s truly important to you.

Emptiness precedes fullness. 

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