Retreat – Surrender

I was given the gift of 48 hours of solitude last weekend.
48 hours of a simple life – closed door praying, listening, reading and writing.

No Internet. No social media.

I have to admit I was slightly nervous. It’s so easy for me to hide in busyness, my identity in my non stop mom-wife life.

Within my retreat hills I found a thin place. Not only as a result of frugal feasting, but a place where the things of heaven are easily touched.

A synesthesia of solitude I will hold onto for dear life.

Vastness, wild and symmetry all woven together.

I’m desperate for everyone to realize this gift.

You would never be the same.You would seek until you found…and He can be found, because hidden treasure is your promise.

The glitter of gold on a murky bed. The energy seam within dusty coal.

It requires intention, listening, waiting – lingering longer and drawing away.

Walking slower and further than you thought, yes, just around that bend, over that hilltop.

Catching the movement of water, sitting in a tree.

Listening.

One of the books I devoured was ‘A Holy Wild’ by Mark Buchanan.
He says this about exuberant creation ‘You couldn’t name it all in a lifetime. You would have to plunder dictionaries in twelve languages to describe adequately one square foot of it. All this God makes for the sheer joy of making things. Most of it for His eyes only and then He goes off and makes something else’

There is much more I could write out of the experience because I believe it is so crucial to life.
But I’d like to live in that place a while first, where Sabbath becomes the heart not just a day.

For now here are my pics.
Enjoy the story.

‘If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with gettingso you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met’. Matthew 6:30.

Michelle xoxo

Survival through Solitude

I write this from a small Kelowna beach watching my children play in the cold Okanagan lake, a singer wearing a tiny, red sequinned dress belts out ‘We are Family’.

It’s Canada day, yes, Canada is 145 years old today and 1000’s of locals and tourists join the birthday fun. Red and white is the uniform of the day, everyone has their Canada on in one way or another.

And suddenly ….. I realise ‘I’ve got all my sister’s with me’ as we meet up with loads of Willow Parkers.

Week one of the school holidays and we see a promise fulfilled – a treehouse.
Yes, nestled within our cherry tree sits ‘Fort Collins’.
Built by Phil and our friend Mike with the invaluable help of Josiah. The place has already been painted and Emily’s artistic flair added. It has also hosted a couple of sleepovers. Sadly, for those sleeping over the treehouse is little too close to parent’s bedroom to get away with any late night sneaking out.

Nice try though…

As much as it’s for the little people in my life, I confess I’ve sneaked up there too this week. It holds a certain silence, an embrace – offering a solitude.

So, in the midst of crazy summer life I will attempt to offer a thought on solitude, or more so,  the thoughts of great theologians, who offer a wealth of truth on spiritual disciplines, solitude being one of them.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the value of solitude and silence.
‘We are silent at the beginning of the day because God should have the first word, and we are silent before going to sleep because the last word also belongs to God… Silence is nothing else but waiting for God’s Word and coming from God’s Word with a blessing.  But everybody knows that this is something that needs to be practiced and learned’ (Life Together)

The purpose of silence and solitude says Foster, is to be able to see and hear (Celebration of Discipline)
But this is more than stopping and focusing, ‘We can only survive solitude,’ warns Dallas Willard, ‘if we cling to Christ there’ (Spirit of the Disciplines)
Henri Nouwen describes how our aloneness with God can feel, this truth hit me,
“Solitude is not a private therapeutic place.  Rather, it is the place of conversion, the place where the old self dies and the new self is born…
In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding: no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make, no meetings to attend, no music to entertain, no books to distract, just me – naked, vulnerable, weak, sinful, deprived, broken – nothing.  It is this nothingness that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something.    But that is not all.  As soon as I decide to stay in my solitude, confusing ideas, disturbing images, wild fantasies, and weird associations jump about in my mind like monkeys in a banana tree.  Anger and greed begin to show their ugly faces.  I give long, hostile speeches to my enemies and dream lustful dreams in which I am wealthy, influential, and very attractive – or poor, ugly, and in need of immediate consolation.  Thus I try again to run from the dark abyss of my nothingness and restore my false self in all its vainglory…
The wisdom of the desert is that the confrontation with our own frightening nothingness forces us to surrender ourselves totally and unconditionally to the Lord Jesus Christ” (The Way of the Heart, p. 27-28).

Or the sounds so simple yet profound challenge is found in Matthew 6:6
      ‘Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.             Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will    begin to sense his grace ‘

And isn’t that what we all need?
To sense His grace. 

I love the idea of solitude being our primary place of strength.
Strength to  grace this life

So, how about you – how, where, when do you find solitude?

Share your wisdom in comments and maybe give this treehouse dweller and her readers some creative ideas.

Michelle xoxo