Mercy Me! I've got work to do.

Mercy Me — I've got work to do! making the world a better place – starting with me.

Nothing I hate more than nothing

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I have spring fever – bad.

And I have writer’s block—worse.

All I want to do is sit in the sun and have its radiant rays singe all my thoughts, so I can bask in nothingness.

Ah, the glory of nothing.

The problem is I have deadlines, children, and commitments.  Not to mention that I generally try to avoid the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun. In fact, if you were to ask me how I think I will die (no one ever asks, which baffles me, because it seems like a very important question) I would answer without hesitation – skin cancer.

So, if you do happen to attend my funeral (please consider yourself invited) and that is how I indeed meet my demise, then you can reference this post.  Things like that are always eerie.  Perhaps you will surmise that I could have predicted the future – had I still had one.

To clarify, and to avoid the onslaught of people seeking to know whether the stock they just bought is going to perform, I cannot predict the future.

It’s just that I am fair-skinned, blue eyed and grew up in the Sunshine State.  I remember slathering myself with baby oil so thick that if a gnat landed on me it would drown.  I would spend every weekend I could at the beach with my BFF, reading books, assessing lifeguards, and talking about nothing short of everything.

Then, we would roll over onto our bellies and take a nap — surrendering our consciousness to the lull of the sea and our bikini clad bodies to the cancer-inducing rays of the sun.  It was blissful and it was stupid.

The highest SPF we would use was 15 on our face and nothing over an SPF 4 was considered from the neck down.  After all, it wouldn’t have justified the gas money it took to get us to the beach if we were just going to come home a darker shade of white.

What would that be called anyway? Certainly not Tropicana Tan which was the ideal — perhaps, buxom beige? Neither of us was buxom and since no one on the cover of Seventeen Magazine was beige, we were shooting for a nice shade of butterscotch like the cover models. Admittedly, we often ended up looking more like the inside of a watermelon.

Of course, as an adult I wear hats and use sunscreen.  I no longer see the allure of sitting in the sun simply for the sake of turning colors and adding spots and lines so I can look like some zoo animal.  Since I don’t have time for such nothingness anymore, I am not tempted to lay out the way I did as a teenager anyway.

But today was so glorious.  No humidity.  No bugs.  Sun and flowers – a lawn chair and a pool coaxed me from the kitchen where I had just finished cooking dinner.  Blame it on the intoxicating smell of blooming jasmine, but it was too beautiful to be inside.  I succumbed.

Besides, maybe it would be the perfect place to write, I thought.

I brought the laptop to the back yard and laid in my chaise lounge.  I stared for quite a while at the blank computer screen.   I knew I wanted to write about First Holy Communion because my son had just received the sacrament last weekend.  But I just had nothing.

In fact, I had so much nothing that the lyrics from Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians song, “Nothing” came to mind.

 “There is nothing I hate more than nothing. Nothing keeps me up at night.  I toss and turn over nothing.  Nothing could cause a great BIG fight…”

(Repeat this over and over again for about 5 minutes, and you pretty much have the gist of the song.)

Anyway, all this nothingness bothered me quite a bit because it’s the Holy Eucharist we are talking about – Jesus’s body and blood.  It’s the antithesis of nothing – it’s everything.

So I sat waiting for the Holy Spirit to come enlighten me with His wisdom — to give me words as profound as the sacrament itself.  But of course, there are none.

So He said nothing.

There is nothing I hate more than nothing…” sang Miss Brickell.

Finally, my son came home from cub scouts and into the backyard interrupting the solo concert performing in my head.  He was a welcome distraction with his metamorphic smile coyly revealing part of his two front teeth — their shiny enamel only partially emerged.  They were beginning to fill in the gaps that just weeks ago grinned empty.  It reminded me of a bud before it blooms — except with teeth.

Hoping for some direction since it didn’t look like I was going to get any divine inspiration; I asked him how he felt receiving his First Holy Communion this past Saturday.

I had a perfectly blank screen in front of me and I was anxious to get anything on it, so I sat poised to transcribe his exact words.

“It felt good that I was receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ,” he said.  “A feeling hit me that it was very special, and all the other times I will make Holy Communion, it will be special too.”

Whoa.

He continued: “I knew it wasn’t just bread and wine anymore.  It was Jesus.”

“How do you know that?” I challenged (momentarily forgetting that these challenges usually end with me proving myself challenged – not my kids.)

“The consecration,” he answered.  “It turns the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus and after that it’s called the transubstantiation.”

I couldn’t help but be impressed by the multi-syllable words coming from my missing-half-his-teeth eight year old.  The Sisters at his school have taught him well.

Thinking the conversation was over I was surprised when he interjected with enthusiasm and decisiveness his conclusion on the subject.

“I felt very excited.  It means so much to me to have Jesus come into my heart.”

My 11-year old drew this picture of Jesus at the Eucharist.  I keep it over my desk.

My 11-year old drew this picture of Jesus at the Eucharist. I keep it over my desk.

With that, he went back into the house and I was left alone again with my nothingness.  Except now, I had something – his words.

I read them over and over, and thought about what they really meant – what it really means to have Jesus in your heart. Eddie Brickell’s song about nothingness began to fade away much like a summer tan fades into the fall.

It occurred to me how much I take for granted that I have Jesus in my heart and in the hearts of my husband and children. I grew up knowing Him. I have a relationship with Him.  Not everyone does.  Not everyone has been introduced and not everyone has accepted Him.

It made me think again of nothingness.

But this time it wasn’t the nothingness of letting go of to-do-lists and tasks and basking in the sun, but that of emptiness from not knowing about the merciful divine love that He has for each of us.  How hollow that must be.

When I receive Him during communion, I am endowed with such a gift of His physical and spiritual presence.  Through the Eucharist I am called to share His love with others so that they can know Him too –instead of the dull ache of nothing.

When I think of it like that, I guess I feel like Edie Brickell after all.  There is nothing I hate more than nothing.

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Author: Lara Patangan

Mercy me, I’ve got work to do… is a blog I started on my 40th birthday to chronicle my experiences spending the year doing corporal and spiritual works of mercy. No longer on the cusp of a new decade, I am still here finding that much work remains – in the world, my community, my relationship with God and perhaps most challenging, within myself. Please sign up and join me as we share the work that matters most – being better people. In hopes that when the decades cease to pass the world will still whisper of the graces left in our wake.

11 thoughts on “Nothing I hate more than nothing

  1. Loved it!!!! Wow! With Alex’s comments!! That must have blown you away 🙂

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    • Thank you! Alex is so lucky to have you for a Godmama and I love that you made such an effort to be there for his special day. His comments did truly wow me because they were much more enlightened than I would have expected. Once again — out of the mouths of babes!

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  2. Well said. I like this one. We all have something. We are born with it. Amazing how some people choose to ignore or diminish what is truly something. Is the world turning into empty souls? I agree with you. I hate nothing too.

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    • I hope the world isn’t turning into empty souls. I interviewed a woman yesterday for a story I am doing on foster moms and she was so amazing and inspirational. It reminded me that truly there are some really good people in the world. Maybe they should just stand up and be counted.

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  3. Isn’t it beautiful the faith of a child? Great post and great story!

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    • Thank you! Yes, children’s wisdom never ceases to amaze me. I don’t know what happens between childhood and adulthood that often messes so many people up because indeed it seems that we may start off wiser than we become. I am hoping my son always remembers the importance and joy of keeping Jesus in his heart.

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  4. Absolutely beautiful. You wrote very well. I too this spring, now I am up north and we just got done with a long winter, felt called to be with nature. Then entering back home to other duties, I find myself behind. But there is something needed in experiencing what we call “nothing.” We need it somehow.

    I also thought while I read your post of Elijah on the mountain waiting for God. And finding Him in the silence. So often we think of silence as nothing, but in reality we are with the ‘I am’. Just being. Maybe in those lovely days God is the one beaconing us to come and enjoy with Him in rest. “And not he last day he rested and looked at all he had made. And it was good.”

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    • Susan — I agree I think sometimes we benefit the most by indulging in a little nothingness. Perhaps, that is why God made nature so entharalling — to coax us out of our cubicles and into His light. Thank you for sharing the scripture about Elijah. I love the thought of just being. It implies such an acceptance of ourselves and where we are in life with both our crosses and our blessings. Thank you for giving me another excellent reason to go be with Him in stillness.

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      • I was taught by God that the only necessary action each day is to “be” with Him. He is my only strength. It is good to hear other women being taught the same.

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  5. Your children and husband are so blessed that not only are you taking this journey, but your family will be able to have this written testament. I think about them looking back on these entires throughout their lives, reading it to their children and their children’s children. You are doing good for so many!

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