Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer. Luke 5:16
The earthiness of Jesus’ personal life was foundational taproot to the fruit of ministry of his life. We can give only so much energy, spirit and life before we find that we are in fact lacking, needing and retreating. As Jesus continued to pour himself out into others through the healings, the teachings and the accusations, we discover this oft repeated phrase of Jesus’ departure from the throng and his solitary moments in the wilds.
Perhaps it was being in the quiet that enabled him to hear the symphony of creation—the aria of a swallow calling to her beloved; the gentle tickle of the breeze upon his cheeks; the earthy grit of the sandy dirt beneath his feet; the cadence of the crickets hum. Maybe it was there, in those places, that Jesus’ ministry was not only birthed, but enriched.
Just as a spring of cool water refreshes the soul, so too does the spring of time alone. Silence, we have long known, allows a different part of the soul to emerge. The soul isn’t pushy. It doesn’t overcome the brain’s hyperactivity. Instead, the soul is patient. The soul waits for the moments of awakening where we stop racing and start being. For it is there that we begin to find the source of all that is—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and the like. These emerge, cultivated in the sacred space of reflective listening.
As Jesus withdrew, I want to imagine that he went with one simple intent—to allow the brain to stop its pushy leadership and allow the depth of self to emerge. We can, and often do, allow our minds too much power—building tiny fears into giant beasts; our bouncing attention span that can scarcely focus for more than eight seconds; to believe that we might know all things and miss the enticing beauty of mystery.
And so our scriptures, if we listen closely, keeps hinting to us, of our deep need to get away—sometimes physically but often internally—to a place of grace where God can tug at our soul, awaken our faith, and free us from the cages that too often limit the vastness of self. Perhaps today is a day to turn off the noise—the external and the internal, and learn this gift of reflective being. Your mind will run…simply keep coming back to a sacred word of your choice and allow that word to be your word for reflection and prayer.