Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
By all means use sometimes to be alone. Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear. ~George Herbert
I’ll be spending the next 36 hours alone. I won’t talk to anybody but myself and God. Sure there are some big things in my life that I’m sorting out, but I also know I need this just to be healthy.
You see, I wish I could regularly and in an ongoing fashing process through the myriad of emotions (frustration, happiness, regret, anger, lonliness) that are part and parcel of a normal human existence.
I want to revel in the postitives of life– the joy, the surprises, the pure, the noble, the fun, the silly, the beautiful. I want tolearn from and move on from the negatives — the mistakes, the conflict, the disappointments, the unmet expectations, the painful relationships.
As a healthy human being I want to swim through life like a minnow dashes and darts through the water. Like a torpedo gracefully slicing through the ripples of life.
Yet I am so not like that.
My heart is full of hooks. And as my heart bumbles and putters through life… through fields of precious gems, delicious treats but inevitably slimy weeds and sticky reeds, each hook gets tangled and intertwined with life’s cares, life’s disappointments, life’s inevitable sadness. I’m not sure what it is about the nature of this life, but for some reason weeds and reeds have a better knack for sticking on hooks than the gems and treats do.
Sure, sometimes a reed slips off my heart’s hooks. Through forgetfulness and present day cares, things of the past occasionally I am freed from a worry or two. But others persist and over time with neglect and forgetfulness slowly graft themselves, until its hard to tell where the dastardly hook ends and the weed begins.
Anyways, some of the these weeds are big, melodramatic issues that I won’t elaborate on here just yet. But it should also be said that other weeds are smaller ones, little dispapointments, little hurts, litte regrets: Somebody I thought was my friend ignored me on the train the other day. I’m not crying myself to sleep everynight, but when I think about it and I’m honest with myself, it feels a little crappy, you know? That stupid email I shouldn’t have sent. That meeting I was late too. What do you do with those weeds, just “brush them off your shoulder?” Is it that easy?
I’ve tackled this subject in a slightly different way, but in the similarly overly elaboratic metaphoric sense, this tim football and tamaguchi:
I guess you can say I need to go on a retreat because for whatever reason, I am not satisfied with my current level of emotional well-being. I carry things in my heart I don’t want to carry, while I let go and am not emotionally connecting to things I no are worth more to me than these paltry distractions. Yet, there are knots and tangles and cobwebs somewhere inside my thoughts that I have yet to unwravel.
Part of me hopes and would feel slightly re-assured and less juvenile, if I knew that Jesus had similar feelings. He retreated to solitary, lonley places becaues he needed to figure life out, things big and small. I’d like to think that my Lord and Savior had a lot on his mind and needed to process on His own and with His Father. It would be nice to know that Jesus needed sometime to unwind.
Or maybe not. Perhaps because he knew all things, he never dealt with stress, always negotiated and processed challenging, complex emotions in an efficient, and timely manner. Perhaps his omniscience never allowed him to deal with anxiety or unmet expectation. He could never be disappointed because he always knew what would happen.
Perhaps this sounds divine… and yet… it doesn’t sound like Jesus and it most definitely doesn’t sound human.
Anyways, as I go off, I’m at least somewhat excited because for a flaming extrovert like me, anytime I try to practice even the slightest amount of introspection for an extened period, I usually stumble onto a bustling flea market of repressed, subcoscious thoughts and feelings and it can be at times interesting to sort through… until I find a skeleton or ten.
But if you so desire, say a prayer for me and my time this weekend. I’m looking forward to it. Lord knows I need it.
Let’s close this bad boy off with a prayer from Thomas Merton:
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
– from “Thoughts in Solitude”