Olivia Newport empty coffee cupThe typical coffee drinker consumes an average of 3.1 cups per day. Thirty million adults pour specialty coffee concoctions down their gullets. And what is everyone else drinking?

I’m not much of a coffee drinker. But I do enjoy a warm beverage at my desk, and easily refill my mug three times a day with something—usually decaf tea, sometimes hot chocolate. And don’t even get me started on how much I love soup.

Recently, as I was sipping that third mug, I started wondering why. Why do I feel such satisfaction in that warm liquid oozing down my throat? (I’ve already told you it’s not for a caffeine jolt.)

And I thought about how tea fills up something in me. And from there I went to how I crave being filled up with a lot of things: food—okay, we are not dissecting my relationship with food right now—friendship, and fiction, to name the top three.

I just assume I can be full of food, friendship, and fiction—and lots of other things. You do too. You make your own list.

I confess I’ve never been great at fasting from food. Or friendship. Or fiction. Or anything else. No doubt I have some areas of my life I need to bring under a clearer spiritual discipline, but the fact remains that I like to be full.

So what would it be like to be empty? Exposed. Vulnerable. Dependent. Uncontrolled. Needy. Humbled.

Certainly there are times I need to be empty. Empty before God, even empty before other people. I’ve had plenty of life experiences that make me feel like I’m out of gas. Drained. Exhausted. In a sense that’s empty, and those moments hold lessons I need to embrace.

But what I’m pondering now is voluntarily being empty. Voluntarily stepping aside from comforts and supports I feel entitled to and have worked hard for.

It’s Ash Wednesday. Millions of Christians around the world are beginning Lent, a journey of forty days of reflection and choosing to move out of our entitlements and toward the Cross and through to resurrection. So it’s timely to wonder about craving being empty rather than full, to crave the grace that comes to us in our own emptiness because of the empty tomb.

• What are you full of today? And what might emptiness teach you?