When The Vessel Is Empty
“There are angels walking among us.” Author Jennifer McMahon
By Susan D. Peters
Women are vessels for our families, friends, and our communities. We pour into others continuously, and sometimes our vessels are empty. I’m choosing to be transparent in using myself and recent events as examples. No offense to men who are also vessels, but I need to share my perspective as a woman to speak intimately. It’s been a l-o-n-g season of pouring and more pouring. As the matriarch of a large family, a caregiver, an employee, and grieving the recent loss of a very dear friend to cancer, I feel completely empty.
However, being an empty vessel does not change the need to be available to pour into others. Our loved ones need what they need. And while self-care is really important, the truth is that sometimes self-care must be deferred.
During stressful times I often forget that God is everywhere, equally present, and whenever I lose sight of the omnipresence of God, I suffer. Recently I had a unique experience that reaffirmed my belief that our bodies are vessels that hold the consciousness of God, also known as the Creator, or Universal Intelligence, and that we are like droplets of water in the sea of consciousness. Despite our various skin suits, we are all spiritually connected.
Several days ago, I woke up troubled and began meditating and praying. My intention that day was to visit someone into whom I needed to pour kindness and love. I asked God to help me bring a better version of myself to the day than the one that had awakened in my bedroom. As I reluctantly prepared to leave my home, my daughter, sensing my low energy asked, “What’s wrong, mom? You don’t seem like your cheerful self.” I amped up a fake response, “I’m fine!” I was not fine. I felt completely empty. I just wanted to BE. Not to DO.
However, my steps had been ordered. I dreaded errands like shopping for an uninspired gift that seemed effortless. I was able to accomplish the purchases quickly, and they seemed “perfect.” My next stop was the grocery store, and as I stood at the deli counter waiting for service, I heard a voice ask, “Have you been a good girl?” I looked to my right to see a grey-haired woman staring at me. I replied with a restrained, “Yes, I have.” She reached into her tote bag and announced, “This is for you.” She handed me a transparent plastic bag with a lovely handmade beaded bracelet inside. I asked her if it was free, and she said it certainly was! I thanked her as she said, “I don’t have much to do, and I enjoy making and giving away bracelets.” When I examined the bag further, in addition to the lovely bracelet, there was a small booklet inside. The cover of the booklet said in bold black lettering,
YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.
Those words took my breath away, and my eyes began to water. How could the lady know how depleted, empty, and forgotten I felt? She- had- seen- me. I walked up behind her, gently tapped her on the shoulder, and asked if I could hug her. “Of course, she said,” and we hugged tightly. I whispered into her ear that she was my Angel today because I was struggling. She warmed me with a knowing smile.
Was I completely replenished? No, I wish I could say that I was. But she had transferred enough spiritual energy to me that I had what I needed to pour into the person I was going to visit.
Angels walk among us.
Every time I reflect upon the encounter with my Angel and repeat the story, I am drawn into a greater understanding that we each have the potential to be someone else’s Angel. It is the kind-hearted response you choose instead of harshness when encountering a person who seems angry. It is a smile bestowed upon all you encounter; it is paying for someone else’s meal; it is helping a coworker without motive; it is the patience to respectfully wait for an elder to cross the street. It is every genuine kindness. The warm hug embraces a struggling spirit to remind them that regardless of the circumstances, they are not forgotten.
Even as we pour into others, we must open our hearts and hands for a refill.
Susan D. Peters, aka, Ahnydah (ah-NIE-dah) Rahm, brings a wealth of experience gained as an expatriate living in West Africa. Her memoir Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot, received the Black Excellence Award for Non-Fiction from the African American Alliance of Chicago and the Mate E. Palmer award for Non-Fiction from the Illinois Press Women’s Association. Stolen Rainbow, a short story focused on the post combat recovery of a beautiful marine captain after a devastating combat injury. Broken Dolls, represents Susan’s foray into mystery writing and is the first of a series featuring the flawed Detective Joi Sommers as its heroine. The second Joi Sommers mystery, The Iron Collar is a riveting story with multiple ingenious twists, and Slay the Dragon the third in the series, illuminates the sexual exploitation of children in expected and unexpected ways. Her most recent novella, The Chef’s Choice is a delightful holiday romance. Susan’s work is featured in numerous anthologies. Buy her books online and at www.SusanDPeters.com.