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xviii. Signs and Wonders - Emptiness


c.1200, from Old English at leisure, not occupied, unmarried.

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

St. John 6. 1-15

he knew what he meant to do

that bright windy afternoon

with clouds blown

like light scrim curtains

although afterwards

they would all have problems

they looked at nothing

with the same view

but were learning

and this would crawl

at the bottom of their minds

for a long time

he scanned the sky

and said nothing

and then he fed them


what would remain a problem


would be how he fed them

not why

there on the dark grass

not hungry but empty

and that is always so much more


to satisfy

Jeff Guess


Emptiness is a key concept in Buddhist philosophy. It is the supreme mantra. The Buddhist creed of emptiness ends with the words ‘Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all-hail!’ Spiritual emptiness is to have an open mind and an open heart and an open self. Too often we live our lives at the expense of this. We should take notice of Samuel Beckett’s words ‘Nothing to be done’. Writing poetry I know, the poem has always at its core an emptiness, a hollowness that defies explanations and criticism and shares much in common with the spiritual and religious life.

Reading: St. John 21: 1-12

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” NIV


Nothing in my hand I bring,

simply to the cross I cling;

naked, come to thee for dress;

helpless, look to thee for grace;

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

let me hide myself in thee.

Augustus M. Toplady 1776

©Jeff Guess 2017

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