I was familiar with the experience of a “fertile void” when Nancy, my spiritual director, mentioned it. I just didn’t know it by that name. I’ve known seasons when all seems quiet on the surface of my life, but I’m aware of a subtle stirring beneath the quiet; a place where things are composting—where my inner life is being turned over, my psychological structures broken down, in order to become more deep and real and fertile.
It’s not an all-together comfortable place. A part of me chaffs in the waiting; feels uneasy and wonders what I should do to stir things up myself. It doesn’t take long, though, to discover the vanity of trying to hurry the decomposing and reconstituting of my inner life and soul. The invitation during a fertile void is to rest in it and trust the process of it.
The reason I suspect for this season of fruitful emptiness is the fact that I’ve just finished the manuscript for my next book and I’m feeling the let-down. I’ve turned a corner into December, toward the Advent of Jesus, and I’m numb and honestly a little bored. I felt hopeful when Nancy suggested that I’m in a fertile void. I know that good things happen when a field is allowed to go fallow for a season; when I cease striving and rest in the knowledge that God is God and I am not (God).
Then I thought about Advent; how it's like a fertile void. Advent is a time of waiting during a silent, holy night; watching with anticipation for the birth of Jesus. We wait in hope that he will come again; today, tomorrow and the next. We linger in the stillness and look for his yet-to be seen holy visitation. The invitation of Advent is to cease striving and consent to the deeper, quieter work of God in the silent, holy night.