Day 5 Alone but not Lonely
Yesterday was an unusual service at my church. For the Lenten Season we are practicing “silence” as part of listening to God in a noisy world. We did a long, meditative “prayer practice” in silence. We took communion in silence. We had the traditional words (those normally spoken) on a screen and the pastor broke the bread and held up the cup….but in silence. When we talked about this service ahead of time, it made me uncomfortable. I couldn’t imagine it. I was amazed at how quickly I was comfortable in the quiet. It was a guided tour into silence…if you will. It was powerful and it broke the barrier of fear and distrust of silence and being alone, with ourselves and with God.
Jesus tells us to go into a room by ourselves, shut the door and pray to our Father who is there in the secret place. (Matt 6:6)
Prayer is personal and Jesus is reminding us that we need to be in the place of the fewest distractions, the least noise… so that we can listen to God and listen to ourselves. In his book “The Workbook of Living Prayer,” Maxie Dunnam says: “If we are going to have a life of prayer, Jesus is insistent that we must go into our room, shut the door, and be alone with God. To be alone with God is creative, purposeful solitude.”
It is also how we build the relationship with God. We bring our truest selves to God in the quiet place. As the relationship builds, we find that being alone with God is anything but lonely.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to see my good friend Evelyn Bratton. Evelyn was a neighbor for many years. After the death of her husband, she moved in to a retirement home about an hour away. We celebrated her 91st birthday together in January. She is always such a delight, she is ….as we say in the south…sharp as a tack. But her lifestyle in the retirement home is nothing like what her life was here in the neighborhood. Her mind is sharp, but her body gets weaker every time I see her. She does not go out very often. At one point in our visit, she saw the worried look on my face and she said, “Now don’t think I am lonely, because I am not. I have elaborate conversations with God; we talk all the time. This is the time in my life for that, you know.”
Evelyn has found the silence and the alone time with God and it sustains her.
The challenge for Lent: find the silence, turn off the TV and the computer, mute your phone and spent some “quality time” with God.
Grace and Peace,