For the past several days, as I have been walking at Church of the Woods, my eyes and feet have been guided toward nothing. More precisely, I have been drawn to holes. To dark pools, to hollows, to empty places where nothing seems present. In this, I think, I am being invited to let go, to become Nothing.

In this age of pandemic, many of us are being asked — indeed, forced — to let go. To let go of routines, let go of being with family and friends, let go of usual work and play, let go of our supports and our expectations. We do not know what will happen, and we can’t pretend it will be life as usual. This is not comfortable. It is profoundly disorienting.

In the yearly cycle of Christian faith, these next few days are when Jesus lets go of his life, the people he loves, his service to others. I can almost hear him saying, “But there is so much to do!” But instead of doing this important work, he is called into the pain of the cross and the dark emptiness of the tomb.

As we walk along with him, we also are being invited to let go. You do not need to do everything. You do not need to have the answers. You do not need to provide certainty. In this time of upheaval and disruption, of suffering and grief, of despair and death, I invite you to hold the emptiness. To sink into it, to allow it.

There is just one thing you must do. As Jesus prepares to depart, he offers a final instruction to his disciples: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)

Love another! As you do, remember one thing. When Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb on Sunday morning, she finds that the rock has been rolled away. The tomb, too, is empty.

From the poustinia ~


Stephen Blackmer

Stephen Blackmer is founding executive director of Kairos Earth and chaplain of Church of the Woods. Steve comes to this with 30 years of conservation experience, having founded and built conservation organizations including the Five Rivers Conservation Trust, Northern Forest Alliance and Northern Forest Center.

A midlife shift led him to Yale Divinity School and ordination as a priest in the Episcopal Church, carrying the question in his heart and mind: “How can being a priest deepen my work to conserve the Earth? What does the Christian tradition have to offer to this work? How can the Christian tradition be re-understood and re-imagined in a time of need? How can the conservation movement recover its understanding of the Earth as holy ground?