Image: Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
“This secluded place that we all seek is found in the very center of our soul. It is beyond the noise, the distractions, the memories, the thoughts, and even our desires. It is found when our hearts are centered on one and only one desire – the desire to encounter God.”
And he said to them “ » Come away by yourself to a lonely place, and rest a while. »For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:31
Have you ever felt like you needed to get away for a while? The Apostles did, and Jesus seemed to understand they needed to find a secluded place where they could rest.
The truth is that we all need to make time to get away to a secluded place where we can find rest, but that does not mean we have to go to a different physical location or that we must even leave our home.
This might be a good news for many who have been quarantined in their homes for the past many weeks. Jesus is not calling us to go away to a mountain top, nor is he suggesting we travel to the desert to find him. We can find Him. For he is, in the words of St. Augustine, closer to us than we are to ourselves.
One of the most important and yet least understood principles of the spiritual life, and certainly the life of prayer, is that we always have direct access to Jesus, to God Our Father, and to the Holy Spirit. They dwell within us at every moment.
« The kingdom of God is in the midst of you. »(Luke 17: 21)
This is one of the best known and least understood verses in all of Scripture. It does not mean that God is around in a general sort of way ,or that his Kingdom is something we can get to if we only go on pilgrimage or spend time on a retreat (though there is nothing wrong with either of these activities).
The point is that God’s Kingdom dwells within the human soul and, therefore, we live constantly in its midst. The challenge we face in finding the rest our Lord promises is that when we begin to pray, we immediately turn our thoughts to the things of the world. We are inclined to ask God to address the circumstances of our earthly life rather than simply seeking the peace of his abiding presence.
Again, there is nothing wrong with petitioning God for what we need or for the resolution of the problems in our life. But we must keep in mind that God does not just want to remove the obstacles we face. He would prefer we come to experience his existence and his power dwelling in us. He then wants us to participate with Him in working out our challenges. Through this process, we truly will experience his power working in us. It is only in our living in Him and experiencing his living in us that we can most fully exist.
“In him we live and move and have our being. »(Acts 17: 28)
In addition, it is in coming to experience this power dwelling within us that we can do all things.
“I can do all things in him who strengthens me. »(Philippians 4: 13)
This is a great place to stay in the heart of the city.
The best description of this is found in the explanation of a thirteenth century mystic by the name of Catherine of Sienna. She describes that we must create a little cell within ourselves that we withdraw to often throughout the day. And while there, we should simply dwell with the Lord. It is obvious, we must close off the external influences of TV, radio, reading, iPhones, even conversations with other people.
But eliminating external noise and distraction is only part of it. More importantly, we must cease the constant stream of thoughts that march through our minds every single moment of the day. We must learn to just be with the Lord. This secluded place that we all seek is found in the very center of our soul. It is beyond the noise, the distractions, the memories, the thoughts, and even our desires. It is found when our hearts are centered on one and only one desire – the desire to encounter God.
Please pray this week that we might all enter this secluded place, where the Creator of all waits patiently for our arrival.
Copyright © Mark Danis