“We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions [and distractions,] and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others.” –Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart
Two weeks have gone by since my last post–two weeks spent reconnecting with family and friends and slipping back into (almost) all the familiar routines of life here. Already, I’m struggling with reconciling the person I wanted to be during this time with the reality of who I still am. In some ways, this time I had hoped would be such a fresh start has felt more like hitting rewind. Here I am, back living in the same apartment, with the same things on my to-do list, the same ability to be so easily sidetracked and distracted, and the same feelings of cluttered chaos already creeping in like dustbunnies in the corner.
I’m reminded today of my deep need for consistent solitude–which is not my natural inclination. I am a die-hard people person, and although I’d usually rather listen than talk, I really do hate being anywhere alone. Yet solitude is so much more than simply time for me to withdraw from the world and have “alone time.” Solitude is opening up the inner space of my heart where all my fears and hurts and misgivings come rushing out. It is bringing all myself before Christ and really confronting it there, in a place where I can no longer run or hide from it. It is the prayer that not only examines my own self, but receives His healing grace and worships His beauty.
In this space of in-between, when life seems full of the small things and I’m struggling to connect the last three months to my immediate future, I want to remember that healthy soil is given time to lie fallow. I’m not always in control of the pace of my life, or how each season will evolve, but I am always able to choose what kind of person I become in the meantime. So the question then becomes not “What will I do now?” but “Who do I really want to be?” I want to celebrate this chance and never lose sight of the blessing it really is. My prayer is that this will be a season when all that I’ve learned and gained over the last three months can really germinate inside my heart. God alone knows when it will be time for the first buds–whatever they are–to grow.