AN “EMPTY” SPACE

DSC01946

In Manresa School, Parañaque, there is a huge empty space right in the middle of the school, under the gaze of Mother Mary in the figure of a big white statue with the Child Jesus at her side.

Today, in crowded Metro Manila, the temptation is to utilize every empty space. Not a square inch should be wasted. It seems criminal to allow land to lie empty, when it can be put to so much good use. Facilities can always be added; new buildings can always be constructed, etc...

DSC01944

However, one gazes at this empty space and sees something beautifully clean and green, ringed by trees whose trunks are loosely embraced by circular tables and benches. On schooldays, young boys and girls relax during breaks under the shade of leafy branches, their hair caressed by the gentle breeze.

DSC01947

Visitors are greeted by this vast expanse of green as soon as they enter the school. It is part of the gentle, disciplined and joyful environment of Manresa. Some say with surprise, “Sister, how homey your school is!” Others wonder, “There is something different in your school, Sister.”

The educative community – teachers and staff, students, parents, sisters, alumni, etc. – makes up the big part of that “difference” which is a widely recognized reality of Manresa School, by people inside and outside.

Now, one might think, “Wouldn’t that difference be enjoyed by more people if we utilized that useless, empty space that is still available to use?”

I would say, “No. That huge, green expanse under Mary’s gaze, as it is now, precisely forms part of that ‘difference’. It rests the eyes, opens the mind, and allows God to nourish the soul, in a way that one can easily take for granted. So let us keep that empty space.”

Doesn’t this sign point to a deeper reality in the spiritual life? If we do not reserve “an empty space” in our hearts during the day, if we do not resist the ingrained temptation to “fill up” and “put to good use” every available minute or every silent moment (either toward pleasure or toward production)... are we not shutting the door to God and His graces?