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The Joy of Nothing

“The Joy of Cooking,” and, "The Joy of Sex,” were huge hits before I was born.

There are now books touting the joy of life, movement, and everything under the sun.

Recently I went to a friends' house for dinner where a beautiful spread was laid out. When I commented on the glorious feast she simply said, "Oh it was nothing."

My friend and I knew it was something, but in saying it was nothing she was telling me that I am free to simply enjoy it without obligation. In Spanish, to say you’re welcome you say, "de nada." "It is nothing."

Nothing is not the same as zero.

Zero is a placeholder in the number line located after the negative and before the positive integers. Zero is a mathematical placeholder. Nothing is the absence of even zero, neither negative nor positive. It is simply nothing.

Nothing bookends life.

We are born with nothing and we die with nothing. We possess no clothes or words. In between we accumulate and in wisdom, we let go.

To accept and find the joy in nothing is critical to accepting the true nature of this life, before and after the journey, from wherever we begin, and end.

Nothing is central in healing.

"I know nothing," is not a statement of ignorance, it is a statement of innocence.

To say we know nothing about the greatest mysteries of the world is to say, I can still learn and celebrate mystery.

I have been a practitioner of healing as a priest for more than three decades and I had much rather lean into I know nothing versus claiming I have answers for trauma, injustice and pain. I believe the old saying, "it's a long fall from a high horse."

Nothing is the beginning.

Scientists begin with the premise that the null hypothesis is true—there is nothing. From there you collect data that can show the alternative is true.

Scientific probability is that something is there, but you have to prove it. And the truth is that you can never prove it 100%. You just keep collecting data that allows you to reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis.

The quest is to see when there is something, and when there is nothing.

Nothing means letting go.

The new fad about organizing is to get rid of things that don't "spark joy." In other words, the closer we can get to holding on to nothing, the more joy we might spark.

The season of Lent is some people's favorite season in the Christian calendar. It is the time to be free of something that has caused us to feel trapped or stifled.

We don’t reorganize, we get rid of it, finding that in its absence, in the nothingness, we find joy.

Nothing does not have to be feared.

We are afraid of nothing. None of us want to be nothing. But when we welcome the concept that nothing is not something to fear, it can become value-free.

Think of when someone says, "nothing to see here." It means look away. Nothing to judge, value, or dismiss. To embrace nothing means to acknowledge its potential value.

When Henry Brooks, the great-grandson of John Quincy Adams, went fishing with his father, they spent the day by the river talking and casting lines. They didn't catch one thing.

The young man's journal entry for that day says it was the most glorious day of his life with his father, Charles Adams, US Congressman and Ambassador to Great Britain under President Abraham Lincoln.

His father, who also kept a daily journal, wrote that as they caught nothing, it was a wasted day.

The father had missed the glorious wonder of nothing.

Nothing is a theology of dust to dust and knowing that everything passes but love.

Nothing is a brave proclamation that tosses out musts, have-tos, and systems that leave us empty. It is like cleaning. You wipe away the grime, like judgments, and find the shining return to the simple natural state of life.

Conservationists celebrate doing nothing as the most important work of the forest. Let the forest be, just sit in it, don't even leave a footprint.

Nothing is a clean slate.

It is to proclaim that nothing is the freedom to start again.



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