Archbishop John Dew
Another year has begun. I hear many people saying that the holiday season has gone too quickly and we are back into the rush, the hustle and bustle and I am no different.
It has not taken me long to forget the still moments, the times of peace and quiet which I have been privileged to have. I know that I need to create such moments, take them when I can and be aware of the presence of God and that I am surrounded by goodness.
My intention this year, as it is most years, is to take things more slowly, be more reflective, to listen again to the invitation of Jesus when he says ‘remain in my love’ (John 15:9) and therefore to ‘be still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10).
For most of us it takes a long time to discover the truth that solitude is good – actually a necessary part of being human, but it seems to me to be a lesson I need to learn over and over again.
When we read the gospels and reflect on the life of Jesus, it is easy to see that, although he participated in public and formally approved times of worship, he also spent time in solitude. The gospels tell of solitary prayer in the stillness of the night, on open mountain tops, in the wilderness far from people. The public ministry of Jesus was preceded by 40 days and nights of prayer. Before he chose and commissioned his twelve apostles, he withdrew into the isolation of the mountains. He prayed in the garden on the Mount of Olives to prepare himself
for the road to Calvary.
A few short words tell us what he implored of his Father during what must have been the most difficult time of his life. He needed that time to pray and accept God’s plan for him.
‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine’ (Mark
Jesus needed times of peace and quiet, times of solitude. We need them, too. It is not always easy for
busy parents, or for those committed to occupations which take time and energy to find times of quiet. That is
why I know I am privileged to have the times I have and know that I need to use them well.
The late Br Roger of Taize once said ‘Only the silent celebrate deeply’. As we go into 2014 maybe the challenge
is each day to find just a few moments to discover the nourishment of solitude and that it is actually a necessary part of being human.
When we do cultivate times of silence and solitude we will be gifted with the presence of God and will indeed ‘celebrate deeply’.