May 31, 2011

Making Time to be Alone with the Great Alone

Each day, it is important to set aside time for solitude with God, to be alone with the great Alone.  The ancient desert fathers spoke of the importance of making a new beginning each day, of withdrawing into silence to renew our encounter with the Lord.  Although many think of a retreat as a weekend to do ever so often, it is good to build into our daily schedules small retreats from the busy-ness around us, and to allow ourselves to be enveloped by the love of the Most High if only for a few moments.  This means we must regularly disavow all sorts of distractions, pre-occupations, anxieties and silly amusements to make room for God in our lives.  

Although not always comfortable, gratifying or even therapeutic, by making a place in our daily schedules for entering into silence and attending to the whisper of the Lord in our hearts, our relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit acquires the space it needs to unfold.  Finding regular periods during the day to bow our heads and fold our hands is about renouncing a kind of self-reliance which robs the Bridegroom of our attention. Those who do this discover a powerful paradox: the more we attend to the Lord, the more we find ourselves able to attend to those He has entrusted to our care. When we add the salt of prayer to our daily routines, we discover constant engagement with Him in an ongoing conversation about all of life in light of the Gospel - so that our life is never simply flat, never an empty routine. Through prayer, time becomes pregnant with moments in which we are invited to give ourselves in love, moments in which eternity is born, moments of the Cross - moments where the glory of God is manifest.  

Here, daily prayer is about a devoted love, a faithfulness of heart.  By making  space for prayer, by ordering our lives for this devotion, prudently subordinating other responsibilities around this heart to heart with the One who has loved us to the end, we are constantly astonished over how He is so much more faithful to us than we to Him.  By setting aside our anxious concerns and lifting our hearts above the merely material, if even for just brief periods each day, we glimpse how the Almighty generously gives us all we really need and much, much more.  The fact is, the Lord enjoys the company of those who humbly seek Him, who especially in their darkest hour trust in Him. He enjoys being astonished by our faith. Those who make Him the priority of their hearts are always blessed in ways beyond their understanding - discovering in being alone with the great Alone, the threshold into an unfathomable communion of love.