Silence & Solitude

A certain unavailability is essential for the spiritual life. Henri Nouwen

Jesus understood the importance of time alone with the Father. Even if it meant getting up early before dawn, he sought out time with the Father. It didn’t matter that the day before was long and hard. Indeed, the intensity of the day underscored his need for time apart. He knew that the Father was his life source and that without him he could do nothing.

The same is true of us. As he was to later tell the disciples, “Abide in me and I in you, for apart from me you can do nothing” (see John 15:4). Communion with God is a prerequisite to kingdom service. It is the place—or rather state of being—that opens us up to the movement of the Spirit in our midst. Communion is a spiritual state that we often resist (for reasons we can’t even articulate), yet it is the state we yearn for. And when we enter that state, we know ourselves to be blessed as we simply rest in God.

Without communion there can be no compassion for others. Nor do we truly intercede for those entrusted to our care. We are too preoccupied with ourselves.

Jesus’ capacity to be with God, deepened his ability to be with us in all our fractured brokenness. In his time apart, he was often present to God on our behalf, listening. It is that same listening that we are called to today that the Spirit might intercede with sighs too deep for words (see Romans 8: 26-27).

Not that we understand this much better than the disciples. When dawn broke, they sought Jesus out, exclaiming when they found him, “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1: 37). We too can get so caught up in the busyness of ministry that we forget to be still. We forget that we are to serve in the supply of the Spirit, not our own power. But the time will come when we learn that we cannot sustain the pace we have set for ourselves, that we cannot manage apart from the Source.

Henri Nouwen writes: “A certain unavailability is essential for the spiritual life of the (leader).” It prompts the question: How would our leadership be deepened and enriched by the practice of silence and solitude, by time apart with Source?

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