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From Isolation to Contemplation

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

These have been some challenging days we are facing. I have found myself reflecting a lot on the space we have been given these past weeks.  It has forced us into a small space, physically and mentally. But it is a great opportunity to expand into a greater space spiritually.  My temptation is to isolate, to become fearful, and to cut myself off from others.  Connecting with others virtually, in the groups, has been a great help and encouragement.  

The greatest encouragement has been having more time and space to pray.  I can be alone, or I can choose solitude and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me.  Both places look similar. However, one is being truly alone, and the other is experiencing “God with us.”

One thing that has helped is the verse we sent out a few weeks ago and that Shawn wrote about last Sunday.  Isaiah 30:15 says, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”  The words rest, quietness, and trust all reach out to me.  If there were a need for Isaiah to say these words 2,700 year ago, they are definitely needed these days.  In rest, quietness, and trust I see the invitation to prayer: to allow the God who is already there to enter into my space—even better, to enter into God’s place.  

That is my prayer for each of us, that we would connect with others, but also that we would connect with God, allowing the Holy Spirit to enter these days of “forced solitude.”  It is an opportunity to make space for God, to experience prayerful contemplation. In his great plan, Jesus has made an intimate place for us. 

These words from Henri Nouwen have been an encouragement to me, “The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it is a movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.”

In this year of Teleios’ Jubilee (50 years of groups) and in this year of the coronavirus crisis, the invitation is to enter into the life that Jesus offers us, a life that is larger than us and our crisis.  This same chaotic world is the one that God Made Flesh entered into and is redeeming. He knows and understands our crisis. He pours His Spirit and His Love into the midst of our broken world and lives.  The invitation is to a refuge that bears life--not to burden, but to authentic interior rest and quiet trust. Will we together risk surrendering to the “Lover of our soul”?

- Art

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