When I took a week long pilgrimage last year along roads I had never traveled, I felt lonely at times, but I never felt alone. I felt God’s constant presence. Within the quiet moments I seemed to perceive unexplainable things. Memories of this week and of similar experiences energize me with the conviction to remain faithful to Christ even when tempted otherwise. Rekindled by listening in the silence, I realize more closely what I believe to be God’s will for my life. Then I return to community with a fresh, new spirit of eagerness to act out God’s will and to share my story.
…The secret of Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place where he went to pray, early in the morning, long before dawn. In the lonely place Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own; to speak God’s words and not his own; to do God’s work and not his own. He reminds us constantly: ‘I can do nothing by myself…my aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.’ (John 5:30) It is in the lonely place, where Jesus enters into intimacy with the Father, that his ministry is born…Somewhere we know that, without a lonely place, our lives are in danger. Somewhere we know that, without silence, words lose their meaning, that, without listening, speaking no longer heals, that, without distance, closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that, without a lonely place, our actions quickly become empty gestures. The careful balance between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community, forms the basis of the Christian life and should therefore be the subject of our most personal attention. ~ Henri Nouwen