In the middle of both I find myself looking at what is. I am like water.
In what way? Left to my own devices, I seek my lowest level. Like water. It always will run downhill.
I mentioned this week that I am easily distracted. Actually I distract myself. Pondering and practicing the discipline of Solitude this week I have seen my habits in a new light, rather like a flood light into a dark room. Revealing what was formerly tolerable in a dim light to be frayed and worn under bright light. My habits of starting and not finishing, of having too many things vying for top priority, of saying Yes too many times and having little or “no time” to be alone.
I learned this week that although too much action can be the enemy of Solitude, when practiced at the discipline, one can experience Solitude while busy. Richard Foster said it this way: “Solitude is more a state of mind and heart than it is a place. There is a solitude of the heart that can be maintained at all times.”
Look at how two sisters made choices. When presented with a dinner guest, one got busy, the other sat with the guest. One resented all the work, the other sat peacefully in the guest’s Presence. Given that much information likely our Western minds would jump to the side of the busy sister who is taking care of the needs of the guest. Ironically, that’s not where Jesus sided. He chided the busy sister with these words: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered by so many things; but Mary has chosen the better part and that will not be taken away from her.” Mary’s priority was being with Jesus. Martha’s priority was doing stuff. Both are necessary. But Mary has chosen the better part…
Being with Jesus prepares us to be with others. Solitude in His Presence is refreshing to our souls; like what water is supposed to be to our bodies.
Yet we must take care of life and work. We must be active. In reading the Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire I encountered an idea that made perfect sense to me.
Be the still axis.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh suggests we strive “to be the still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations and activities.”
Don’t do away with action; Be the still axis.
Looking at Solitude this week has been a blessing. I have seen some of my habits for what they are: water going downhill.
I have also seen the possibility of learning to be still at the center even when there are many things to attend to.
I love this summary again by Anne Morrow Lindbergh: “The problem is not entirely in finding the room of one’s own, the time alone, difficult and necessary as that is. The problem is more how to still the soul in the midst of its activities.”
What have you learned this first week of Lent?