Being the church is about being in community, about being together and working together to spread the Gospel for the transformation of all the world. Most of our church seasons reflect that–Advent draws us together around the manger, Epiphany is our time of manifestation as a people of God, and Pentecost (that l-o-n-g Pentecost season) is the season in which we as a people are called out to BE the church, to BE the Body of Christ in the world. But so much of this season of Lent is depicted alone, in the wilderness, struggling as we spend 40 days in penitence and renewal as we approach the Cross. So much of Lent is depicted in solitude and silence, an intentional time with God as we retreat and prepare ourselves for who we are called to be and what we are called to become.
But how can you serve the world in solitude? How can you help all those that need help when you are alone? Think about planting things in your garden. You do not just take them out of the temporary pot and place them on top of the earth and then wait to see what happens. You have to dig first. You have to clear away the loose top soil that easily gets strewn about with the winds and the rains and you have to dig deep down into the firm, nutrient-rich undersoil. It is there that the roots can be nurtured and fed. It is there that the water can be held long enough to quench thirst. And it is there that the plant can root itself, becoming strong enough to hold for what is to come.
Lent is like that rich soil underneath. We have to dig down to find who we really are, to find those gifts and those graces that God has placed deep within us. We have to dig down that we might tap into that sacred center that exists in each of us. That cannot be done in a flurry of activity. It must be done alone, in solitude. And I think, particularly, in this world in which we live that is often filled with frenzy and busyness, it is important, once in awhile, to give yourself the chance to dig deep, to give yourself some solitude that you might find yourself once again.
But solitude is not solitary confinement. It must be intentional. And there, in the midst of the solitude, you will see the community that way it is meant to be known. Those in monastic orders that feel called to live in solitude and silence are never completely alone. They see themselves as a part of the community and they see the community the way it is meant to be. And when they go into their room to pray, they pray for us all. The community is there with them–in silence. 13th century German mystic, Meister Eckhart said that “nothing is so like God as silence”. It’s like that rich soil that exists deep underneath what we see. But we have to dig.
Creation began in silence. THAT was the beginning. Before God spoke Creation into being, God was in silence. Let us return.
So, on this twenty-eighth day of Lenten observance, go into a room and close the door and, if only for awhile, sit in silence. Do not worry about needing to connect with God or find God. (Remember God is not lost!) Just dig…and let God show you what you are meant to find.
Grace and Peace,