Encouraged by Jonny’s insights, my Lent commitment is to spend 3 hours in solitude, reflecting and praying, each week. How hard can that be?
Extremely hard as it turns out.
Challenge one: find 3 hours to escape…Much harder than you imagine. Eugene Peterson’s book The Contemplative Pastor makes this shocking claim that ‘a busy minister is a lazy minister’. So, I am lazy, because I keep finding my scheduled time for solitude squeezed out by things that seem more urgent, or people I cannot let down. Is this a problem of priorities? It’s a discipline to find time. But I persist.
It’s also much more pleasurable than I think.
Where could I comfortably spend 3 hours in solitude? Where there’s no mobile phone contact? Where I might be genuinely relaxed…and this is how I get to spend 3 hours every Lenten week… in the spa! Don’t knock it! An hour of intentional physical relaxation ends up with 2 beautiful hours on a warm day bed in a dark room, with a Bible, notebook and time…precious time.
Explaining spa as a spiritual discipline takes some doing. We imagine time with God as something uncomfortable, strained and formalised. Which is exactly why we need Lent? To return to God. The true God. The God whose presence is like water to a thirsty soul…like rest for the anxious, distracted, weary pilgrim.