What is the opposite of presence? Christian writer John O’Donohue writes that the opposite of presence is not absence. Absence leaves a feeling of longing, an energy that lingers for what or who is absent.
For him the opposite of presence is vacancy. “Vacancy is neutral and indifferent space. It is a space without energy…untextured by any ripple of longing or desire.” What are the situations, the places in your life that are indifferent, “untextured by…longing or desire?
We are approaching Maundy Thursday, the evening Jesus was arrested and removed from the presence of his disciples. We face Good Friday, the day the presence of Jesus’ life ended. Did his followers and friends feel a vacancy? Or did they experience the absence of their friend?
The Latin roots of the word “absence”
means “to be elsewhere”. “Absence seems to old the echo of some fractured intimacy,” writes O’Donohue. We also know that Sunday’s coming. Unlike the first friends of Jesus, we live on the other side of resurrection. I invite you to enter into the space of absence this Holy Week as you prepare for Easter. Consider the time(s) Jesus has felt lost to you, far away and unreachable. Allow yourself to experience his absence and the longing that creates in you. Bring that with you on Easter morning to worship and allow God to speak into your longing and loneliness.