Wednesday, January 31, 2007
"A poustinia is a small sparsely furnished cabin or room where one goes to pray and fast alone in the presence of God. The word poustinia has its origin in the Russian word for desert." (Wikpedia)
I learned this word while I was retreating at Northumbria Christian Community off the north coast of England with my bro, Palmer. Its a very old, celtic monastery and I fell in love with the place. As Palmer and I walked the grounds, there was a small, rubbled, musty stone room in the middle of the woods with a sign on it with white paint that read: "Poustinia". I had no freakin' idea what that meant, Palmer said "its Russian for solitude retreat". That dude was/is brilliant.
I found a book in the library at Northumbria on Poustinia and I read it. Then one of our days there, I went into that little stone shelter, I would say it was 4' x 4'. If the home we stayed in dated back to the 11th century, i have no idea how old the stone chapel was, but it was alot older than that. I lit a couple candles and then began to pray. I think I prayed for hours. The place was stinkin' holy. I prayed for every friend and family member I could think of and for most of them I got Revelations about. The stone chapel was oozing with spirit. Spiritually there, I could sense the face of God, I'll never forget it, He was laughing, really enjoying our time together. This image floored me. God enjoyed me, I don't think I had/have a category for this. But it stuck with me. When you go into poustinia, you go to change.
For a multitude of reasons, tomorrow and for the next 4 days, I'm going into Poustinia. I'm leaving home, getting alone in a distant place for the sole purpose to fast, pray and seek the face of God. I have learned to love these times of Sabbath, but I don't do it often enough. My wife is so gracious to bless me with this space, she believes in the work of God in my life and wants me to sharpen it. Please pray for her while I'm gone.
In Poustinia, my initial response is usually weeping. My sin and brokenness are just raw before a Holy God. And eventually I get marching orders. some specific direction for my calling to lead. But most of the time is spent enjoying God and letting him enjoy me. Reading, talking, worshipping, walking, eating (when I'm not fasting) . . . just communing. Its something I'm really looking forward to. I am my beloved's and He is mine. Everything I'm so busy doing seems so important, until I enter Poustinia. Then perspective happens and I realize most of the stuff I worry about is just me worshipping false idols. This is like spiritual chiropractory, a proper realignment. I'm so tired, I'm looking forward to rest.
The Sabbath is not a law to follow, its an invitation to enjoy. Make time for Poustinia, its a discipline to help you be the human you were meant to be.
Stop and Notice the Kingdom around you,