Thursday, May 08, 2003

Solitude is the furnace of transformation.

-Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

Many are quite familiar with Nouwen's observation on solitude. Seems good to be able to relegate it to the realm of nifty comments as opposed to the halls of personal experience. But that doesn't produce inner regeneration and life change.

You see, I belong to a Fight Club of sorts. We had been talking about the spiritual disciplines a week ago, mainly lamenting how undisciplined we tend to be (or maybe it was just me). We acceded to the fact that such disciplined spiritual pursuits contribute to the spritual giantism in our forefathers/mothers who have paved the way. But for me, I effectively wane toward spiritual mongoloidism. I get stuck inside, stymied by my half-hearted attempts to shed the mantle of self on my own terms. Besides, the glossy-smooth, "everything's okay" church planter, got-it-all-together, hand-shaking, ear-ticklin'-butt-likkin' veneer is quite a suit to don and doesn't peel off easily.

Well, we say, "why don't we skip meeting next week and spend that time in solitude?" Ain't no thang. We agree to it and depart. Turns out, the day (yesterday) we chose to mount our spyerchul dissaplen horsey on our solitude saddle was ALSO the day of fasting and prayer for the Palmers, which I found out this past weekend. Somehow I had conveniently displaced from my consciousness the plans for solitude in recognition of the call to fast, which I was all too eager to do. But come Wednesday, I was not to be left off the hook. Two disciplines in one day to see what I'm really made of.

Through the fast and the solitude, I did not stand to gain anything. I was not supposed to. I got to see glimpses of myself as my mind would be bombarded by my mini-idols and vagabond thoughts demanding allegiance to their crowns. It was about Mark, Jennifer and Micah and the Christ. In His amazing stillness immovable, I saw my quirkiness and vacillation and was bewildered at such fluid instability. I don't deserve to stand in the stead of a brother and sister in need nor do I deserve to bask in the solitude of the presence of the Almighty. But He gives more grace I'm told somewhere. Why do I spill that cup like a tin-can of marbles on a slanted floor?