When the team and I sat down for the first time and discussed which topics interested us, many were oddly intrigued by the notion of “nothingness”.
“What is nothingness, PDan?” asked Dekae.
“That word itself sounds mad deep, but I’m blanking on what that would mean…nothing-ness.” added Eddie.
And as we kept talking about nothingness, trying to tackle the definition and what type of creative process this topic would entail, the fascination quickly wore off. And soon enough, all of us were confronted by a sense of fear of what “nothingness” really meant.
“Yo, PD, that’s like scary, but awesome at the same time. Like kinda scary awesome“, quipped Timmy.
Timmy, a music producer by trade, would then go on elaborating about anechoic chambers and how people would freak out about the sheer silence, or “nothingness” the room would produce. Given the structure of the room, if you were to speak out loud, you could literally hear your words disappear in front of you. And if you stayed in the room long enough, you might start to hear your blood gently pumping through your head, or a high-pitched hiss caused by spontaneous firings of the auditory nerve.
These anechoic chambers create an acoustic environment that is the closest possible simulation of space, and similarly used by NASA. This experience can be disorienting enough that people in the chambers must sit down in order not to lose their sense of orientation that sound would normally provide. This sense of nothingness implies a sense of lacking of or absence and one often perceived negatively.
But the thing is, nothingness was a positive thing before sin.
This nothingness before creation related more to the perfect self-sufficient being and harmony of God and nature before creation; when humankind was made in the Image of God. It was only after the Fall from God that the nothingness of creation became involved in the mystery of evil, sin, and the curse of death upon it. One theologian puts it, sin is "the self-surrender of the creature to [this] nothingness."
And in light of today being Ash Wednesday, we are unfortunately reminded that we are confronted by this nothingness. This nothingness reminds us not only of Christ’s death, but also of our death as well. As we are made from dust, we are to return to the dust—the signifier of death, the abrogation of life and the silence of existence.
But let us not lose hope!
As Reverend Ward B. Ewing once said,
“Remember that you are dust. You are not worth much as a commodity, but you are loved, beloved, shaped, molded, caressed, nurtured by the Loving God who made the stars and the moon, all the creatures of this world. Remember you are dust—precious, precious dust.”
And to this dust we return.
As we set aside Ash Wednesday as a day to address the serious weight of sin, death and nothingness let us be reminded that there will come a day when nothingness will be no more!