Sr Rhea Lei Y. Tolibas TC

The Emptiness Within

By Sr Rhea Lei Y. Tolibas TC

The author is a Capuchin Tertiary Sister of the Holy Family. Sister Rhea Lei is assigned to Mater Dolorosa Formation House in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.

Life has its own amazing and extraordinary story, from the day we’re born until the day when we are gone but as Longfellow’s poem goes, ‘the grave is not its goal’.

TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.


Life has an innate search for meaning, satisfaction, and for true happiness. This is the emptiness within that most of us are perhaps unaware of in a way that we are being misled to look for these in worldly desires and satisfactions such as material wealth, power, lust and possessions. But behind all these is the deep yearning for God.

When I was a child, simple things could make me happy: when my father came home from work with something for me, when my mother bought me a new dress, when my sisters gave me a candy. These brought a simple, temporary happiness. I never knew what happiness could really mean. I was thinking true happiness is only for those who are well off, who never suffer. I grew up in a poor family. I hated poverty, since it made us suffer, made my mother cry often, made my parents sacrifice so much. As children we never knew how to play as other children did. We needed to work hard and to sacrifice even if sometimes we could play.

Few of us like to suffer. We see suffering as pain, with no happiness or satisfaction. We don’t know how to embrace it with joy.