Saturday, 13 January 2007

An essential solitude

The earliest stages of my own journey are hazily buried somewhere in my childhood, though there are memories of people and places clearly linking those early years with the present day.
One such is Stanbrook Abbey, a Benedictine convent in Worcestershire.
My parents were well known to the community there, and today I know my Christian roots to have been firmly planted in the rich soil of Stanbrook.
It was from there that I set out on my journey, though it would be forty years before I became aware of it: forty years of scarcely being aware of my journey at all: forty years in a state of almost total obliviousness to the presence and the calling of God.
I was not in the wilderness as I understand it, but I had certainly spent those years without ever being truly aware of God’s presence: a reality that now accompanies me at all times.

When my journey first became real to me, the power that drove me to continue what seemed the wandering of someone lost, simultaneously drew me towards itself.
This power was first manifested for me in the fellowship I found during that stage of my journey.
As I learned to trust it and be guided by it, this companionship became the basis of both my support and my perseverance, not just for that time, but for the years that followed.

Somewhere along the way, the physical presence of meaningful companions was withdrawn from me.
One person in particular, upon whom I had relied heavily: someone who had without doubt been God’s provision for me for a time, receded towards the horizon and eventually went out of my life.
This happened precisely when I felt least able to manage on my own. I clung to that presence and friendship all the more, and my dependence seemed heightened by any thought of absence.
The reality was that my feelings were merely the result of a misaligned dependence: a reliance that had taken me far too close to an edge I did not recognize until long after the contact had ended, and one which prevented my approaching the one God had prepared for me.
Bidden, they will come to us, almost as Angels in our hour of need: Spirit filled people who better understand the journey. They arrive as answers to our unspoken prayers, having responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and stepped into our lives to steady us, and to bring meaning to the trials we may be going through.
They may arrive, minister to us, and be gone within the hour, possibly never to be seen again.
They may remain with us for days, weeks or months, and they may become lifelong friends, but …
If we become more centred on the person than the presence of God within them, the true gift in their companionship is lost behind the human attraction. The potential blessings are obscured, and God will soon lead them away to wherever He has need of them.
Leave they must, and an avowed inability to stand alone will only make it more difficult for them to extricate themselves from the relationship.
Bidden they come, and, if bidden, so shall they leave.

This is what happened to me.
I had been unable to separate the person from the spiritual gifts with which God had endowed them.
I had experienced a large part of the blessings brought to me as coming from the person; but everything - everything including the arrival of that person in my life - had been provided by God.
Only through being returned to solitude was I brought to understand this.
Not just to understand, and believe, but gradually to delight in it: to revel in it, and to sing and dance within myself as the light of every new dawn seemed to heighten my awareness of His presence.
The physical solitude was much the same as that which I had been made to give up when grasped, shaken and emptied by the Holy Spirit, but the emotional and spiritual solitude was agonizingly beyond anything I had previously experienced.

This was the essential solitude.
This was the space in which I was slowly but relentlessly rebuilt after being emptied completely of all that I knew as myself.
Now I was truly in the wilderness, and nobody - however willing - could have come to my aid.
This was where I walked the edge utterly alone, with all possibilities entirely dependent upon my own strengths and weaknesses.
This was where I met the Presence that had been shadowing me for so long.
This was where anguish became joy; where Jesus became truly present to me, and where He finally moved in: where He went from an ungraspable Presence, to the Friend beside me, and then – not without pain and confusion - to the Power dwelling within me.

Writing this has reminded me of why I have been rather vague in my profile.
It really does not matter who I am.
If I have anything worthwhile to give or to say: if I bring anything good to any person’s spiritual journey, it is not me who gives it to you, it is the Spirit within me: the presence of Jesus in my life, that pours blessings upon you.
He longs to fill your life in the same way.
He needs you to become the person God planned you to be.
He awaits your invitation: your acceptance of His own invitation to dwell with Him; and He has work for you to do.
He has need of you, and will not rest till you have dismantled all your barriers, and welcomed Him into your heart.

Come Lord Jesus, come.

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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