To the Wilderness

Luke 5:16  "But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer”.

How many times have you heard these words?

I need some alone time,
I need to get away,
I have to take a break,
I need Sabbatical,
I really need to rest and recuperate.

Jesus needed solitude in the wilderness to pray, reflect and spend time with His Father.  If Jesus needed to do that you can be sure that we all need to get away and spend time in contemplation, relaxation and reflection with ourselves and with God.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said that “one can be instructed in society, but is inspired in solitude.”

Whether it’s a hike in the beautiful Colorado mountains or centering prayer in a quiet room, we all need time to think deeply and consent to God's presence.  Some say that the definition of solitude is the joy of being alone but we are never really alone as God is always present. Even in solitude and silence of wilderness and a quiet room. The 16th-century mystic John of the Cross said that "Silence is God's first language.”

When we get away and spend time in quiet reflection or communion with God we refresh and revitalize our spirit, mind and body. There is even medical evidence that time spent in nature has a positive impact on our health. Recent research has shown that time spent out in nature and wilderness have a rejuvenating effect on the brain — boosting levels of attention. Researchers found that nature experience, even of a short duration, can decrease patterns of thinking associated with the onset of depression.

Having lived in Europe, I saw that many people took walks in the Alps to reflect and relax, others I know went on pilgrimages to Holy places.  One very popular journey is the way of St. James.  It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the middle ages and now the route has attracted tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims and others needing a break to make their way by foot and bicycle to the shrine of St James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Everyone on the way is seeking their own wilderness, inner solitude and communion with God while walking the route.

We all have all different ways to seek solitude and communion with God- some with a weekend hike into the mountains, or by centering prayer or even a pilgrimage on the way of St. James.  Luke tells us that Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer and so should we.  So try and make some time this month, this summer or this year to withdraw to your own wilderness for prayer.

God Bless,
Matt Schneider

P.S... for more information on the way of St. James I recommend watching the 2010 movie entitled “ The Way” starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Esteves.

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