A Deep Fear of Emptiness





Wheels of baled hay bask in October sun:
Gold circles strewn across the sloping field,
They seem arranged as if each one
Has found its place; together they appeal
To some glimpsed order in my mind
Preceding my chance pausing here —
A randomness that also seems designed.
Gold circles strewn across the sloping field
Evoke a silence deep as my deep fear
Of emptiness; I feel the scene requires
A listener who can respond with words, yet who
Prolongs the silence that I still desire,
Relieved as clacking crows come flashing through,
Whose blackness shows chance radiance of fire.
Yet stillness in the field remains for everyone:
Wheels of baled hay bask in October sun.
~Robert Pack “Baled Hay” from Rounding it Out: A Cycle of Sonnetelles (1999).






Each day I am called to see and listen,
to open fully to all that is around me.
From the simple stillness of the fields
surrounding our farm,
to the weeping of those who sit with me
day after day
in their deep fear of emptiness,
their struggle with whether to try to live
or give up and die.

Their deep fear of emptiness renders me silent;
I struggle to respond with words
that might offer up a healing balm
assuring them even in the darkest time
hope lies waiting, wrapped and baled,
radiant as fire,
ready to spill out fragrant,
to bear us silently to a new morning,
to a stillness borne of grace.





One thought on “A Deep Fear of Emptiness

  1. Beautiful. So needed. So timely, dear Emily.
    It is becoming increasingly obvious in our troubled, hurting society that the busyness, the noise to which we seek to drown ourselves, the impersonal, distracted crowds in which we deliberately lose ourselves out of loneliness in our panic that no one sees us – that we are invisible and do not exist – and that we desperately, silently call out for help, for affirmation, for love….. To me, these are the symptoms that you describe so knowingly, so poignantly in your observations, your feelings mentioned here. As a physician, you have the medical option to prescribe what will temporarily ease the suffering you see. But, more importantly, you give evidence of using your gifts of Spirit-filled encouragement and compassion by applying the healing ‘balm’ of knowing affirmation — in silence — attesting that so often there are no words. There is only the gift that we can freely offer: that of giving ourselves in mute silence, a subtle gentle touch and knowing eye contact – attesting, realizing that all suffering is not endured by one hurting soul but, in reality, is shared by all .


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