Finding a Deserted Place

Week of February 4, 2018

Jesus always finds balance between the activity of ministry and the time to be in silence and prayer.  Going to a deserted place, He communicates with His heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, from whom He is never apart.  His move away to the deserted place is a signal to us.  Where are the deserted places for us?  How do we enter the cathedral of silence to contemplate and reflect on all that is happening?  The other day I was struck by the magnificence of an eagle coming in for a catch on the Fox River.  He was gliding just over the water to place his talons in the water and receive his reward.  I pulled over to the side of Route 25 to watch.  In my mind to this day I can picture that scene; I can see the majesty of such a beautiful bird of prey doing what comes natural.

It is not hard to recall images and experiences that seize the senses.   Jesus in meditation, Jesus finding balance allowed the silence to speak.  As we get ready for Lent, we are invited to the same process.  We are invited to go to a deserted place.  We are called to find balance from the high intensity and volume of activity we each experience every day.  Lent leads us to these places; it leads us to these challenges.  Where do we find them? Some may find them in the brilliance of music as they drive.  Changing what we listen to in the mornings might impact us. Some find it on the running path.  For me running cleanses my thoughts and allows me to absorb the experiences of the day without adding anything new.  We are called to treasure the moments of our lives so that they can be timeless moments bringing us back to the Creator of all time.   For some silence happens when the children are in bed and in the methodical cleaning up of toys and loading of laundry, there is time of reflection.

Too often we are robbed of this by cellular technology.  The beep happens and we run to see who texted us.  The late night texting of teens and tweens robs them of reflection because they are adding more conversation into their lives.  The art of meditation is lost for so many.  The hunger for quiet has not been fully awakened, yet desert places can be found everywhere.

As we strategize for Lent, as we look to what will get us closer to God, we must ask ourselves about silence.  We must ask ourselves about reflection.  It is my belief that reflection leads to integration.  When we reflect, the awareness of blessings is amplified.  When the blessings of God are given amplification, we are able to experience His presence and the assurance of being loved and redeemed. To get to that place every week, every day is a challenge to us to change our attitudes.  To do so leads us into the business of life with a clear focus on mission.    Jesus told His disciples when they found Him that all must go to other places, all must continue on the mission.  He was clear; He was direct in His response.  This clarity came from meditation, reflection and integration.

Lent is upon us. It is my prayer that we may find the deserted places and know of His love.

Reverend John J. Ouper