Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Not Merely Service

I wonder what difference Jesus ministry would have seen had he never pursued solitude? How tenaciously did he grasp time alone or with the twelve? Isolation from the teeming crowds, the needy and the curious? How important was inner settling to his ability to work out all the Messiah stuff required? He didn't take lost souls and hungry people with him to the quiet places. He left them behind. He refreshed himself so he could better serve them upon his return and because he knew that all of life is not merely service. Reflection, evaluation, grappling with truth, and maintaining balance are necessary as well, in order for all to be accomplished.

Service meets the needs of service but it does not restore the fatigued heart. Inner being cannot be examined or heard when the outer being is busy tending a completely different soul.

There is no shame in seeking personal solitude. It is not selfish. Quite the contrary. And it is not a thing that is to be shared. It is s.o.l.i.t.u.d.e. The needy are not neglected when sincere people isolate themselves for a time of revitalization. The neglect is when the refreshment is sacrificed for the sake of the needy.

Tend to the teeming masses in the everyday. Separate from them for special solitude alone or with intimates.

Come to know the difference.

18 comments:

Wandering Coyote said...

So very, very true. One's ability to care for others is seriously impeded when one neglects the self. And you are right - it isn't selfish at all. Unfortunately, some people think it is...

elixir said...

This is such an important point, and I think so overlooked by the modern evangelistic church. Solitude is simply an hour of study or prayer tucked into far too busy ministries. It is not a time for any real rejuvenation, but often just another service to be checked off the list when going about other ministries.
If we are concerned about life-long ministry, it seems we need to prioritize our souls.
How do we learn to pause and rejuvenate when it is not just the church, but our entire culture, fighting against stillness?

tshsmom said...

Wise words!
I never thought of Jesus' solitude that way before. Now, maybe I won't feel so selfish when I take time to "gather my thoughts"! Thanks!!

liz said...

I hear you, sister. Its the one area where I feel real growth over the past wee while. Allowing myself and others to serve me. And, at the end of the day, there's more of me to go around.
Its not just the evangelical wing where solitude gets squashed. In presbyterian circles, me is a word rarely used. Time to bring it back into proportion.
Thanks for posting this. x

Cherie said...

Encouraging to read these comments! Wise women you are, adding much to the dialogue. I thank you.

WC, yes, it's very too bad that some people feel it's selfish, to the point that they even feel guilty should they actually encounter a piece of solitude heading their way. So much so that they bring along the teeming masses! You are right:" One's ability to care for others is seriously impeded when one neglects the self."

Elixer, good points! "Just another service to be checked off the list when going about other ministries." Excellent point. And that idea of a Quiet Time....that lasts 10 minutes, or even an hour...you are right, it's not solitude. Your ending question is a good one! Fight we must - we must find our own way.

Tshs - Good! Don't feel guilty for gathering your thoughts. Otherwise they will be lost....and so will you.

Liz, Here again we share the same heart string. Thanks for the input about presbyterian circles. It's one of those easier said than done things, but like you, I have experienced real growth in the past wee while. More. More. More. : )

Annie said...

Cherie your post is just what I need today. Thank you!

Deanna said...

I'd leave you a comment, but I'm enjoying my solitude today. :o)

Deanna said...

It has taken me until page 100 of Annie Dillard's Tinker Creek, in fits and starts all summer, to begin really appreciating her. Can you forgive my slowness? May I keep her longer?

Cherie said...

Annie, wonderful!

Deanna Deanna, Good! Glad solitude has found you. And there is no need to ask forgiveness. You and Annie take all the time you need. :-)

Leiselb said...

Amen. Wow is this convicting....and inspiring as well. Thank you so much.

Mike S said...

One of the most important lessons I've learned over all these decades was imparted to me by a Buddhist Monk, "If a person is not at peace with himself, he cannot help others to find peace in themselves.":)

tshsmom said...

I gave you another award at my blog. ;)

Ann said...

Cherie, you share on such a deep level, and I am grateful. Your gentle, poetic words point me toward truths I've either overlooked or declined to consider! I am especially preoccupied with service these days, and I am grateful to be reminded of solitude and refreshment-- which should be more than gulping a Diet Dr. Pepper as I drive from one "service" to another!

Wandering Coyote said...

You've been tagged/awarded over at my place.

Cherie said...

I've been gone all weekend and how joyous it is to come home and find all these wonderful comments. You guys are the best. I'm going to respond to each and every one tomorrow morning. Thanks guys!

Sandy said...

Cherie, welcome back. This post is beautiful. Thank you for bringing it to the surface.

Cherie said...

Leisel, as always you are quite welcome. Thanks for the comment. :-)

Mike, Those Buddhist monks give me a LOT of inspiration. Very good quote. Thanks for sharing it!

tshs, Aww, shucks. Thanks friend! I'll be right over.

Ann, You are not alone. Many many of us need a good reminder now and again. Thanks for your comments. Means a lot. As for the Diet Dr. Pepper, be careful when you drink and drive. heh heh ; )

WC, Aww shucks, again. Thanks to you, too, friend!

Sandy, Thanks for the welcome home, and for your kind words. I'll post some of my weekend pics later - if any turned out okay. Today is unpack and catch-up day - plus, the painters are painting our house. Wheeee, exciting!

Cecily said...

Love this post in tandem with the next... taking solitude at the beach. It's such a fight to get to the solitude around here (both internal and external distractions abound!)