“That which exists creates benefit.
That which is empty creates functionality.”
Tao te Ching, Chapter 11
In context, today’s passage is about the Tao itself. To help us understand the power of The Way, the chapter presents three examples:
– Spokes hold a wheel together, but the empty space at the center, the hub, makes a wheel functional.
– Clay makes a pot possible, but the empty space inside makes that pot a container.
– Structure makes a house, but the empty space inside provides us with “room.”
In other words, sometimes value has less to do with what something does, and more to do with the space it provides.
Years ago, when I was too young, I was a minister.
I was not a good one.
Oh, I did well enough on stage. I was a good teacher, a good preacher. But in the area of ministry, of serving others and meeting their needs, I was not very talented.
My greatest weakness? When confronted with suffering, I believed I could say something that would give relief. When confronted with an empty place in someone’s heart, I tried to fill it with words.
Instead of focusing on the sufferer, I focused on my own ability to fix the suffering. In retrospect, that kind of ministry was just another way of making every moment all about me!
Today, I try to handle things differently. When confronted with suffering, I resist the idea that it’s up to me to fix it.
Instead, I give the other person space: to talk, to cry, to be afraid, to be angry. Instead of trying to do something or fix something, I try to just be present.
In other words: sometimes, my value has less to do with what I do, and more to do with the space I provide.
Today, I will be a hub for creativity, a container for grace, and a shelter where people can be who they need to be.