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Emptiness is the Capacity or Opportunity to Embrace New Life: A reflection on Disappointment

The empty tomb is Good News. Our Lord is risen, not missing. The disciples grasped the message amidst fears of its twisted meaning. Silence (emptiness) conveys the mystery of the living Word. It is deep, accessible only to those with a background of faith and a trusting personal relationship. My reflection on emptiness and the experiences that brought it about begins with a physical/spiritual exercise, contemplation in action.

The water crisis in my home area, Chitungwiza, had and continues to intensify threatening our health and livelihoods. Effects of climate change, a drought that hit the whole country, coupled by poor management of public resources, account for this situation. The people have been left prey to unscrupulous traders who take advantage of this deficit in service delivery to manipulate the people and enrich themselves. Among these opportunists are the very leaders, both the elected and appointed, on the one hand. On the other hand, the suffering unemployed youth have joined in to make a living by digging wells, pulling carts, carrying buckets full of water from distant sources to those who can afford to hire and buy water for their own consumption. The poor have no option but to seek the precious liquid in some shallow, unsafe swamps and dried rivers (kumufuku).   

I have a deep thirst for water. My body from constant toil gets dirty, sweaty and feels the need of a bath. Not only I feels this need, everyone does, hence it is a social problem. I write to share what it feels like to lack what is basic and hope that those privileged enough to have its access in abundance may learn to treasure it and share with others. I also urge my fellow diggers, those still digging, not to grow weary or tired or indifferent of reaching the source. Those who, like me hit, rock bottom I urge to look on the positive side.

One day while playing with my younger brother, I asked him, “what if one of us gets a place at the source?” and agreed that one of us should do so. Later on he passed on, thus, I made the ultimate sacrifice and joined the company, a group of men who dedicate their lives to finding the Source and vow to make water available to others[1]. Their training is very tough and rigorous. So, I began to dig with them. Hitting the dry ground was hard with my blunt tools and as a beginner, muscles responded to each pound of the pick. With time I got used. However, another difficulty surfaced, no longer so much the digging; it was the heavy task of shovelling out the soil. This task became harder by each inch in depth. So, I sought after bucket and tied a rope on it. With the help of my companions, the work became much lighter and so I continued.

It is well known that at a certain depth, about 6 meters, diggers encounter a rock[2]. Over the years, they developed some tactics for dealing with the rock. One involves blasting, another drilling, and the freeze-thaw action. These methods have proved effective depending on the nature of the rock, the depth, and the clearance between the hole and surrounding infrastructure. The vibrations of the first two methods have often left surrounding buildings weak. The patience of the digger employing freeze-thaw technic has also worked where the rock is small. For the most part, the rock has been a stumbling block where most give up and leave. In their frustration they have buried the hole and walked away. Some have not even bothered to bury it but just left a death trap in the path of the ignorant and innocent passers-by.

I hit rock bottom when I had well advanced with my digging. I really and still do desire the water for myself and my community and know perfectly well that immediately beneath the rock is where it lies fresh and clean. Those who saw me digging know very well how committed I was to the mission and wished that I continue. Some encouraged me to blast through and see to it that the hole becomes a well, a path to the Source at all cost. Others advised that I must let go, bury it, forget about the past and start afresh. The rock disappointed many.

Since I dug on my father’s yard, very close to His house, His opinion mattered the most, so I went to ask him and seek his opinion. All wisdom pointed to the fact that any slight attempt to blast would damage the walls of the house introducing cracks that, no matter how small, would weaken its very foundation[3]. I recalled my elder brother’s advice, “… on this rock shall I build my Church.”[2] I followed his advice and began to build walls inside the hole with the rock as its foundation.

I await the rains every summer and harvest as much water from the roof of our House, clean and pure. The empty hole I dug with so much zeal, strength, and desire, though I failed to make it a well, has become tank. I shall always store in it enough for my family, and my neighbours. Even strangers who earnestly seek shall get satisfaction of their journey’s thirst. Many shall come from within the House and the surrounding villages to fetch from this tank. Our lives shall be revived, and our dirt cleansed. We shall not rely on our access to what is below but look up to the heavens for our fill. The hole rejected by the diggers shall be for us not a mere emptiness but our capacity to embrace what the Lord has given us (Gomba richava chipo chekugamuchira kana Atipaishe[3]).      

[1] Matthew 28:1-10, Mark16, Luke 24, John 20:1-18

[2] Matthew 16:18

[3] Atipaishe means the Lord has given us, My son’s first name


[1] This is what Men of God and Men for others mean, finding God and inviting others to Him

[2] Regency has always been the make or break point for men in formation

[3] No amount of justification, coverup or cunningness can strengthen but rather weakens the Foundational truths of the Gospel. It only weakens our faith and steals our freedom

The Common Priest

Tawanda Chamba is a freelance writer, independent researcher, and commoner. The is a father of one and husband on one.

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