I have always loved the outdoors…nature in particular. As a kid growing up in a really small town in Central NY, I spent many hours during the summer climbing trees, making forts, pretending that I was Daniel Boone, or Grizzly Adams. Well, I did have a beard at a young age.
There’s another chapter to the story I told in Silent Solitude – Part 1 and Silent Solitude – Part 2. After hosting a few A High Mountain retreats (if you recall, personal retreats with a small company of men) at our home in Montana, I began wondering a few things. What aspects could I bring back home to Michigan, to make them more accessible to men interested in pursuing solitude? Should I be offering more to equip men to practice solitude disciplines in their daily lives? And having learned that solitude and community are inseparable and complimentary spiritual disciplines, what could I offer to give men a taste of this – to experience this for themselves?
As I described in Silent Solitude – Part 1, in 2005 I began an unanticipated journey into the practices of what I would now call solitude and silence. The first part of that journey was personal, formative. Then something else happened along the way.
I began to feel a pull towards sharing my experiences of solitude and silence.
About thirteen years ago, I began an unanticipated journey into the practices of what I would now call solitude and silence. It has been a long and winding journey, and it continues. Our journeys become a part of our stories, and thus my story includes significant chapters on solitude and silence. By sharing a bit from those chapters of my life, I hope something will stir in you; perhaps something that God is inviting you to explore.
Have you noticed how prone we humans are to finding a shortcut to everything? It doesn’t matter what it is, we are always trying to figure out an easier or quicker way of getting what we want. From cheating on a test or our taxes, to finding a faster way to drive to work, to eating dinner in the van. Think of all of the gadgets that marketers relentlessly push on us in an effort to make life more streamline. The microwave, frozen or pre-made meals, weight loss supplements, texting, Google Maps, drive through fast food, automated car wash, K-cups, to online shopping; there is always a new and improved way of finding a shortcut.
Do you have a safe place to go with your brokenness? Who is the one man, or group of men that you have in your life that you can share your brokenness with? I would venture to say that if you do not have those kinds of men in your life, that you are in grave danger of being taken out over and over again.
You know what doesn’t make sense? When you see how something works in the practical, physical world and ignore it in the spiritual world. For example, my wife Diane is an excellent baker. She is one of those women who make a delicious pie crust every time she bakes a pie. Over and over again the crust is excellent. Do you think the first time she set out to make pie crust she was perfect? Of course not. She worked on it. She practiced. My friend Gary Bradley is an artist. An oil painter, usually painting landscapes. Do you think Gary’s first painting turned out as beautifully as his last few? Of course not.
“God comes to us disguised as our life” – Paula D’Arcy
God plays hide and seek with us. His childlike heart smiles as he allows himself to be found. He doesn’t really hide himself from us fully because he’s always available to us but He gives Himself as an adventure of exploration that we might continually discover the joys of an eternal being of goodness, beauty and creativity.
In August my wife, two youngest daughters, and I took my oldest daughter to college to drop her off for her first year. At the Presidential Welcome they read the following quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
I was 46 when I attended my first Wild at Heart Boot Camp in CO in 2003. I didn’t know what a mess I was…I had an inkling, but I thought I was ok, sort of. You know what I am talking about, right?
At the time I was a full time Young Life Area Director with over 20 years of youth ministry under my belt. Even though I had a raging anger, was critical of others, and I had a secret addiction to pornography and masturbation…I appeared on the outside to be a pretty normal Christian man. I attended church, read my Bible, had a pretty consistent QT (quiet time), and was passionate about leading kids to Jesus.