As the hectic pace of the holiday season ramps up, I encourage you to take a (short!) break from the shopping and decorating and sit down with a nice nourishing cup of tea. And when you do, spend some time reflecting on the teapot.
What makes a teapot a teapot? Your answer might start with the materials it’s made of. The picture above is a ceramic teapot, so it probably started with clay baked in a kiln. Then some kind of glaze and paint.
But what if I took this teapot and broke it into pieces. It would still be ceramic, glaze, and paint, right? But would it still be a teapot? Looking at it another way, what if I took a solid lump of clay and baked it in a kiln, glazed it and painted it with this same Christmas image. Would it still be a teapot? No.
The missing element in both these scenarios is the empty space inside of it. That’s what makes it a teapot. The place that holds water and tea leaves. The part that bubbles and comes to life. Whistling when it’s ready. The empty space is critical for the teapot to fulfill its purpose.
Just like the teapot, we have an interior space within us, and that’s where our soul lives. What happens in that space defines our relationship with God. It’s where our spiritual journey takes place. The empty space (and what we do with it) is what makes us children of God.
And so we are called to come to the Cross as empty vessels to be filled up with God’s love and grace. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he writes: “But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not our own.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
We may claim the outside surface…the walls of the pot…but the space inside belongs to God. And we want to keep our interior space as empty as possible so that God can fill us.
Fr. Anthony Ndang Ndichia, a missionary priest in Africa writes: “For God to enter our lives fully, we must be ready to create space: longing opens the heart to receive. The door to our inner self, heart, and mind must be opened: ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be.’ God needs openings in our lives to get through to us, to communicate with us, to stretch us to greater growth, to nourish us, to revitalize and renew us with love.”
Spend some time thinking about how you might be more like the empty teapot. How will you make room for Jesus during this Advent season? In doing this, the weeks leading up to Christmas become an exciting time of possibility.
What is God going to do with the interior space of your soul? How will He fill you up?