Nothingness, absence, reveals our true face. What is revealed depends on many things. Jesus spent time in the desert and this absence brought him to his mission. The darkness of Holy Saturday opened the space for his resurrection in which he showed his true nature to the world. For me, nothingness reveals my limits, my anxiety, my impatience, my loneliness.
What can I do? I return to my body which slows my thoughts, soon my memories no longer disturb me, then I can look around with new eyes. All my past now appears to me as moments of consciousness. This consciousness, that I inherent from my ancestors, is as old as humanity; but the land itself teaches me to meditate.
During isolation, I hear about my brothers and sisters gardening. They teach me that species of plants are part of an ancient, living, system. They describe how the soil rests on a cycle of life hundreds of thousands of years old. More, I learn how the soil holds to deeper bedrock and mountains; these geological ancestors were established millions of years before humans could name them. An Elder reminds me that these mountains have been warmed by a billion-year-old sun, and even the Sun, in comparison to the universe itself, is young.
The content and much of the direction my meditation takes, are not something I own. I initiated my meditation and placed my thoughts aside. I deferred to others who learned from the planet. I reflect on how Humans are old but are inheritors of a life which is older than we; and it is on this life that everything depends.
Even if I achieve nothing with my time, my life is unique. What I do with this gift is another question; for now, I can rest in it and get to know it.
Once this virus has passed over and I can travel again, a good soup might cause me to forget everything I learned! But we will see.
Dr Cullan Joyce, Confluence Meditation
Dr Cullan Joyce is is a lecturer at Catholic Theological College and a member of the Department of Philosophy. He is also a founding member of Confluence, an alliance whose members are committed to exploring the interconnection between different traditions of meditative practice for people today.