Wednesday, February 01, 2006

An Invitation to the Desert

It is completely against my nature to slow down, be patient, be quiet or seek solitude. My identity is as a doer, a mover and shaker, one who makes things happen, someone who gets things done. My strength has been as a doer. It is apparent that because of my injury over the next 6-12 months, I will not get as much done.

So what does that leave me with? It leaves me with an invitation to the desert. 2 of my favorite contemplative authors, Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton, talk about the desert as the place where God forms us. Sometimes we choose the desert, sometimes the desert chooses us. Its a metaphor remembering our church fathers who left their place in the world to seek solitude in God's presence in the wilderness of a physical desert and eventually formed monastic communities there. Bill Bean and I have talked in the past of how we have been mostly formed through the "Seminary of the desert" as opposed to the Seminary training we spent a lot of $$ on.

The desert is a way through suffering. The desert can be lonely and challenging, but it is formative. My heart is still reluctant to receive this invitation and give up my identity for this period of time. To alter my expectations, to change my mentality, to learn to be quiet and meditate. Aaron Klinefelter said it could by my "year of contemplation". Joe Long said I could finally have the time to write a book. (not a bad idea, Joe)

Nouwen says that for the spiritual leader, we have to learn to be irrelevant. That when we ultimately die to our need to be needed, only then can we truly love our neighbor. That its a positive experience to contemplate your "nothingness" in the desert and be embraced by our Beloved.

I'm holding my invitation to the desert. I just haven't sent in my R.S.V.P. yet.


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