“Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply.” – Henry J. M. Nouwen
Crisp air, clear skies and sunshine glistening off the lake like diamonds set the scene for a long-awaited pause from the chaos that was fall. Before entering the winter season and all that it entails – the holidays and all the preparations it brings – three friends and I gave ourselves the gift of time away for retreat, reflection and renewal.
I use the term gift because I believe that when we allow ourselves the opportunity to step away from our daily routines and responsibilities, and we spend time with the one who holds us into existence every moment of every day, much is gained and we become richer people. The gift is not just for us alone but for all those we are in community with — families, co-workers and all those individuals we encounter along the way.
I do believe this time away truly renewed our spirit! There were times of shared insights as we spent time with Joyce Rupp’s book “The Cup of Our Life.” We enjoyed sweet indulgences as we took time to savor the meals we ate and the conversation and company around that table. I’m sure we all experienced quiet revelations that none of us disclosed, knowing they were meant for us alone.
Laughter and silliness made frequent appearances as we freed ourselves from the seriousness of life. We also welcomed new people into our lives and listened to the stories they shared. In full disclosure, there was some shopping involved!
In scripture we see Christ himself modeling this behavior – removing himself from the everyday activities. “Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray” (Luke 6:12). At times he was joined by his friends: “Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James; and went up on the mountain to pray” (Luke 9:28).
These occurrences must have provided something of substance for Him, something that could not be accomplished while in the midst of His daily routines. These times away may have provided the silence needed to hear His Father speak or time for reflection to make sense of what was happening in His life, or possibly it was in these times that He felt a more profound awareness of the Spirit that accompanied Him. Jesus in his humanity saw the need for time away and renewal. He knew the benefits that would be gained, not only for Himself but for those He loved and shared life with.
Do you recognize this need for renewal in your own life? If you have recognized the need, how have you chosen to respond? Have you been moved to listen to the stirrings of your inner voice? Have you in your own way found a path to the needed pause? Or do you ignore this invitation? I think these are valuable questions to sit with if we desire a closer, more intimate relationship with God. In a society that has convinced us that we must be in the constant mode of doing, we sometimes fail to see the beauty and necessity of just being – being present to God and to ourselves.