PRAYER: Fullness And Emptiness—Alive by Brother David Steindl-Rast

An Approach to Life in Fullness

Fullness And Emptiness—Alive by Brother David Steindl-Rast

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer

This book explores ways of coming more fully alive.  Self-fulfillment is a value of which we are conscious today.  But we sometimes fail to notice that people who live fulfilled lives are surprisingly selfless.  At moments when we experience life in fullness, we are, if not selfless, at least self-forgetful.  Don’t we all know this from experience?

The fullness for which the human heart longs is always available.  But we cannot lay hold of it.  We cannot grasp it.  Fullness flows into us in the measure in which we become empty.  T. S. Eliot states:

In order to possess what you do not possess
you must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not
you must go through the way in which you are not.

The preceding chapters speak of gratefulness, faithfulness, prayerfulness, and other aspects of life in fullness.  But for fullness in all its forms, emptiness is the necessary condition.  With this in mind, I have collected in this final chapter some key words and commented on them briefly.  The list is designed to aid the memory of those who have read this book.  But here and there it may go further and point beyond any fullness words can convey to an emptiness one can only savor in silence.



The fact that you are not yet dead is not sufficient proof that you are alive.  It takes more than that.  It takes courage – above all, the courage to face death.  Only one who is alive can die.  Aliveness is measured by the ability to die.  One who is fully alive is fully able to die.  In peak moments of aliveness we are reconciled with death.  Deep down within us something tells us that we would die the moment our life reached fulfillment.  It is fear of death that prevents us from coming fully alive.

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