Whether we like it or not, we are facing a time of isolation due to Covid-19. In my last post, I stated that we can choose to view this as an opportunity or simply something to endure. Interestingly, Christianity has a rich tradition of actively seeking out solitude as a means to meeting God and facing our true selves.
Am I talking about hermits living out in the desert? Yes, I absolutely am. Am I recommending it as a way of life? No. But there is much that we can learn from a group of Christians known as the Desert Fathers who made the practice of solitude fundamental to their development as Christians.
But first, we have to get over the idea that these people were running away from their problems. As it turns out, for many of these men and women of God, going to the desert began a period of intense conflict for them. Why? Because they had to face themselves.
Let’s face it. One of the hardest parts about this isolation is that we have been stripped of many of our usual distractions. No theatre tickets. No hockey games. No club meetings. I am suddenly and uncomfortably self-conscious. Rather than being swept away in a blur of activity, my thoughts, attitudes and character follow me throughout my house.
It is precisely to this arena that I hear the voice of Jesus calling me. Romans 12:2 commands me to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I wonder if our English translation is helpful here. When we think of renewal, most of us think of a library book. You take it to the library, someone scans it-BEEP-and you’re done. Renewing my mind is not so simple. It is more like a wrestling match.
Ephesians 4:26 is a good one for me:”In your anger do not sin”. Now, I can renew my mind by fixing my thoughts on this verse. But it isn’t magic. Repeating it over and over again isn’t enough (“Serenity now!”). I keep that verse in mind, but that is just the beginning.
I need to go further. Why am I angry? Why am I reacting to this situation this way? What is threatened that I am trying to protect? Does my reaction match? And like peeling an onion, you might think you’re finally done, and then discover a new layer that must be processed anew.
Solitude is a gift to you to allow Christ the space He needs. As you have time to examine Scripture and yourself through Scripture’s lens, why not pray this prayer with me:
Lord, I’m not going anywhere.