Contemplative nothingness

May 26, 2020 in coronavirus, Gavin T. Murphy

Gavin Thomas Murphy runs a website called where he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.

I imagined being in a quiet land outside of the city and suburbs during the Covid-19 crisis. Jesus and I had our hands on each other’s shoulders while we looked at a statue in front of us. I heard a wind come and go, I smelled and tasted the earth, I tried to be present. As I delved deeper, I saw a gentle expression on the statue’s face. I saw a blanket of cloud and I got in touch with the movement of the wind.

Jesus spoke and seemed to say, “I see the wind, I see hope”. I looked around, and realised that I was truly in a land of solitude: an intimate oneness with Jesus and all of creation. I saw that the statue was of Mary, mother of Jesus, who stayed faithful in prayer and endured the pain of her son’s death.

In this solitude, I thought of the principles that guide our politicians during the pandemic. For example, the principle of solidarity expresses a desire to let go of self-interest, the principle of proportionality ensures taking the right measures, and the principle of reciprocity requires support for those who protect the public good.

I was hopeful because Jesus, who shared an intimacy with the Father, wanted me to share in that intimacy too. I was deeply touched by the image of being shoulder to shoulder with Jesus. He said, “I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father” (John 15: 15).

I viewed the statue as depressing in the beginning, an isolated figure surrounded by apparent nothingness. But as I joined with Jesus, I realised it was not a lonely figure after all. For it was Mary, who lived out of a deeper reality, whose hands were together in unity and peace.


A three-minute guided meditation (and a one-minute introduction) on facing one of the biggest challenges in the spiritual life. Acedia, also known as the ‘noonday demon’, is a kind of listlessness or restlessness that leaves us without a sense of divine presence. It was experienced by the desert mothers and fathers who were tempted to turn to distractions during their normal routine. We can also experience acedia during the Covid-19 crisis when we are restricted in our movements around work and leisure.