Henri Nouwen once said in a sermon:
When you are able to create a lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes and failures slowly can lose some of their power over you. For then your love for this world can merge with a compassionate understanding of its illusions. Then your serious engagement can merge with an unmasking smile. Then your concern for others can be motivated more by their needs than your own. In short: then you can care. Let us therefore live our lives to the fullest but let us not forget to once in a while get up long before dawn to leave the house and go to a lonely place. (Sermon text: Mark 1:32-39)
The past 48 hours I have been alone in a “Monk’s Quarters.” With comforts, I add. It belongs to friends who loan it to friends who need a come-away-spot. It is a gift I love – not only for the place itself, but because Denis encourages and supports my being in a place here where I find renewal. Even when I’m not even sure I’m doing the right things to make renewal happen. Like HOW early do I need to rise? Is sleeping in allowed? How much time in prayer? How many pages of serious reading before I can pick up that NYT Best Seller? Can I just stare over the balcony listening to bird song for as long as I want?
Tracking spiritual growth is difficult. Maybe we’re not meant to “track” it as though it were the Prime Interest Rate. Becoming more holy seems to happen when we’re not looking. Like the tiny wood anemone I saw yesterday as I sat on a bench in the woods. It is so diminutive it is barely noticeable. Suddenly your eyes focus and there it was all along.
Despite my shotgun approach to time away, God meets me with kindness; my successes and failures do lose some of their power and I can smile at them, letting them go. Then, for a while at least, I am ready to crack back into everyday life.
I wish I could give the same experience to so many of you who have little choice, being where you are with your obligations. But if the chance arises. Don’t hesitate! Grab it. Thanks for stopping by and for thinking along with me. Hoping/praying you have strength for days ahead.
|Wood Anemone, Root River. Among first forest flowers to bloom in spring.|
|Wood Anemone. About 1/2" in diameter.|