Who knew that a couple of inches of water could so disrupt a life? The smell and the work men and the noise were driving me to absolute distraction. We had huge dehumidifiers and giant fans and at night it sounded like we were trying to sleep on the runway of a busy airport.
We were finding out the affects a backed up storm sewer could engender. The damage will total over $30,000 by the time we are close to normal again. I thank God for insurance but this mess had been consuming my life and my health! My lungs were rebelling against the growing mold and general dank stench and my exhausted mind was straining to maintain a grip on sanity.
In the midst of all this disorder we received an invitation to stay with a friend. Cathy lives in a quiet home very near the ocean. We packed up and went on a retreat to her home. In doing so I was reminded of the need sometimes for retreat. I have sometimes joked (or half joked) that “I don’t go on retreat, I go on advance!” This time, though, I couldn’t retreat fast enough.
I drank in the quiet of this lovely home. I quaffed the silence. In inhaled the peace. My body rested and my mind stilled. The hospitality was warm (and dry) and the company, when we wanted it was joy filled. I left home feeling like a man living among the tombs and I returned clothed and in my right mind.
All of this reminds me that we do need regular times to retreat into quiet to meet with God. I need to do this for shorter period daily, longer periods weekly, and even longer occasionally. Jesus after periods of busyness often spent time in solitude.
Lent is a reminder of this need for retreat. A forty day period lies before us in which we can schedule such ‘Quiet Times’. I am a contemplative introvert so this quiet is quite familiar to me, so familiar in fact that I can take it for granted. Lent reminds me of this need and calls me to special efforts to increase my scheduled solitude.
For the most part I have given up “giving things up for Lent” (does this count?), instead I choose to add things. This year I will add retreat. I am finding that the more I add this ingredient to my life the more God blesses me in other areas. Do you suppose he meant it when Jesus said “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.”?
I am grateful to my friend Cathy McKay for her wonderful gift to us when we needed it so badly. I am grateful for my friend Joy who gave us the book “Celtic Daily Prayer” it is already providing blessing to our days. I am most grateful to God who is with me in the clangor though I may only hear him in the quiet.