By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” – Mark 1:35
We love the crowds! Whether it be watching a home run ball fly into the Crawford boxes at Minute Maid Park or gazing with anticipation as a running back from one of the Pearland high school’s football teams gallops seventy-five yards for a touchdown… we all love to stand and cheer and high five the people nearby. Yep… We weren’t made to be alone! And yet, there are those times when we revere and revel in the opportunity to bow our heads in prayer… to be by ourselves with our maker and to look inside our own hearts and minds be it a Sunday worship setting, around the dinner table or during that ‘moment of silence’ in school or at a public event. Call it a spiritual ‘gut-check’ or a personal measuring of faith… even though we are all part of the great big world… only one person walks in the shoes attached to our feet.
For me… it is not an either/or kind of thing… it’s a both/and kind of thing… God’s model for slowing our pace and taking time for ‘self’ …. and… something not to be neglected. And not just early in the morning… but rather via an organized pattern… a care of one’s own soul as Jesus did this throughout the day as in Luke 5:16 we read…But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Moments in the middle of the day and at the setting sun. Faith matters. Word!
To be honest, this is one of the most difficult aspects of my life to perfect. I’ve really had to make an effort to work at me… tending to me… so that I could be at my best for those around me. The holy scriptures, private prayer, poems, devotional writings from the ancients to modern authors along with an eclectic collection of music from the Allman Brothers Band to ZZ Topp as well as hymns by Charles Wesley, Martin Luther and Ladysmith Black Mambazo have all contributed to my ‘alone’ time with God. Putting on the brakes… stopping the steady flow of another TO DO list with its intended results… and pulling back has been the remedy for continuing to gain renewed energy and purpose! Standing on the beach staring at the water from left to right and back will do it, too as the beach truly calms the soul!
Please allow me to add a necessary caution… Jean-Paul Sartre said it long ago… “If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company,” as loneliness results in the poverty of one’s own self due to the neglect of one’s own self. Solitude, however, opens a gate which creates and gathers an internal richness that over time flows through a person back into the lives of those nearby. Afterall, who wants to hang around someone who is so busy that nothing really gets done? It’s always more than ‘taking a chill pill’ as this kind of advice addresses only the moment rather than creating a life-long practice producing confidence and calm amidst a messy world. It’s the long walk in the woods by yourself knowing that you are not alone and at the end a newness of being will erupt!
NOTE: So, here I sit to finish writing words about ‘solitude’ with a blanket of white snow on the ground with a temperature of 18 degrees F. Perfect. Yes, and the perfect opportunity to get ready for Lent… that 40-day window of time millions of Christians around the globe take advantage of every Spring. Lent… that time for prayer and almsgiving and self-reflection. Afterall, no one else can or will do it for you…
The Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches over the last four decades in Texas and Louisiana. You can read more following his blog ‘murmurings’ at https://briangigee.wordpress.com/. Comments and / or questions can be sent to [email protected].