Hollow: 1-having a cavity inside, not solid; 2-shaped like a bowl, concave; 3-sunken; 4-empty or worthless; 5-hungry; 6-deep toned and muffled
Relationships and patterns fascinate me. My eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be and I mistook “hollow” for “hallow” one day. I’d never stopped to think before that these two words are spelled the same except for the vowel, and yet they represent opposites. Hallow is recognizing that which is sacred and hollow being empty of that sacredness.
So I started wondering, what is hollow in my life? When I think of hollow, I think of the middle part of a reed. What do I have that is represented by that? Because I started to see that hallow and hollow are not opposites, but rather complements of sacredness. It’s necessary when seeking and appreciating the sacred in our lives that we spend some time getting out of ourselves, making room by emptying, so that we can be filled with all the paradox of the spiritual – the fresh and old, awe and mundane, exquisite and ordinary – these are the gifts we are given when hallow and hollow are embodied.
But what about the 4th definition above for hollow, “worthless”? In seeing hollow as a way of making space, it points out the “worthless” that is in our lives. And it makes me realize that time is the most precious commodity that we have. How many times have I had time to myself (and not necessarily alone, but being taken out of the routine that usually makes up my life) when I see a way of relating to the world that I want to make sure I don’t forget, so I write it down. Then, two weeks later I might look back at my journal and wonder what in the world was I talking about? The routine took over, and I was not consciously making space in my life so I could continue to enjoy whatever epiphany had enveloped me earlier. It is the taking of time with what we are doing that clarifies meaning in our lives.
Time and space: these two dimensions can have such a powerful effect on us. A few years ago I was working with a colleague on a worship service during a retreat. We’d created a cairn in the middle of the room and the ritual was to walk around it three times, carrying stones to be placed on the cairn, while singing “We all come from the Goddess”. We failed to realize just how much time that would take with 50 women walking around the room three times. I was concerned that it was just taking too long when, listening to the chant of the song, suddenly there was a melody lifted up above the song, a completely different tune that complemented the body of what we were singing while creating an ethereal quality to the entire service. It lifted us up into the mystery. After the service, the woman who had sung this said that it just came to her, this tune out of nowhere, that she was called to sing out. This was a woman who had just been told she had breast cancer and this seemed to me to be a grace given to all of us through her. It happened because there was an intersection of time and space. In that state of being it was hollowed out for us, creating the hallow.