Matthew 14:23 (NRSV)
23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…
Our verse for today is one of several that mention Jesus praying alone, away from the crowds and even his disciples. One can imagine Jesus communing with God: turning his full attention to God, resting in God’s love, and listening for God’s guidance before returning to his totally self-giving life. Jesus modeled this practice for us, too, as we seek to love God and follow God’s will with our whole beings.
How might we find time for prayerful solitude in our busy days? Perhaps we need to reconsider our images of solitude and re-imagine what solitude might be. Does our idea of solitude make it seem too difficult? We don’t need to go into the wilderness. We don’t need hours or days alone. We don’t need to be still or silent. We don’t need to sit in a yoga position or even light a candle. Now, these are all great ways to be in solitude! But in our daily living, we can find other ways to spend time in solitude, more comfortably and easily. Solitude with God should be enjoyable.
All we really need is any opportunity to be alone, and a desire to simply spend time loving God.
Aside from journaling, my favorite solitude times are my daily walks. My iPod is playing my favorite songs, and I walk along both busy roads and quiet paths. Even with all of the music, noise, and activity around me, I am centered in God’s presence within me. My mind and heart wander to quiet places where I feel God moving. The silence is the silence of my thoughts more than the quiet of my world. My walks have become treasured times alone with God.
For our Lenten practice of solitude today, let’s consider possible times when we will be alone, but also able to do the things we like to do. Crafting, writing, coloring, fishing, cleaning closets, drinking tea, jogging, hiking… and yes, meditating if this is your practice! Then, let’s plan to use this time to open our hearts to God’s presence. We can enjoy our time, simply and quietly loving and thanking God. It IS possible for us to “Go placidly amid the noise and haste…”(Max Erhmann).
Our symbol for solitude is a pen. The pen brings to mind the practice of journaling, which is an excellent way to be in solitude with God. May the pen also remind us to invite God to write upon our hearts during our time together (Hebrews 8:10).
Our prayer for today is a meaningful way to center ourselves before our solitude time. Read Psalm 46:10, and remove a few words each time. The sentences become significant in their own way. Wherever you are, whatever you do…
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.