We cannot nurture our interior lives apart from solitude and silence. And if we want to make space for solitude and silence, boundaries matter. Spiritual directors, along with tomes of literature designed to assist pilgrims along their spiritual highways, admonish us to step away from busyness and to stop glorifying it. They tell us that if we’re serious about doing this, we must disconnect from television, cell phones, social media, and perhaps our greatest distraction: people.
Everyone is looking for you, Simon and his companions tell Jesus when they discover his not-so-secret sanctuary for solitude and prayer (v. 37, NIV). Everyone? Evidently hyperbole exists in the ancient world. Jesus responds, “Let’s go.” Jesus leaves the quiet behind and continues his mission of preaching and healing, entering new towns, and never losing sight of what he came to do.
Jesus offers us an essential model for how to serve God. Never losing sight of our purpose and having the capacity to act on it requires our withdrawing from time to time to places where—in silence, solitude, and prayer—we can reflect, regroup, and recharge. God invites us to find such times and places where we can be alone with our Creator, if only for a few hours.
We must never lose sight of our purpose and opportunity to share Christ’s love. But we must also remember that there is one Messiah, and we are not him. Jesus took the time to withdraw in solitude and silence. God calls us to do the same.
What would it mean for me to retreat? Where and when might I go?
Christ, guide me to a place of respite. Help me to care for myself so that I may then care for others. Amen.