Solitude 24.2.18

24 Feb

My time on holiday here in New Zealand must sadly come to an end on Monday and I start the long journey home. I have become aware in recent days how in the midst of the thrill of the outdoor lifestyle and the happiness of renewed family relationships, the absence of my familiar routines over the past three weeks has subtly yet gradually been diminishing my sense of closeness to God.

I often hear or read words such as "and God was in this place" and know from church history that when such powerful spiritual experiences occur, people are attracted in their thousands if not millions - Lourdes within the Roman Catholic tradition and Toronto within the Charismatic movement being just such examples.

I do not wish to diminish such occurences, but at the same time I sense that in Christ, "place" has been replaced by "person". My daily walk with God matters more than my place of worship and the integrity of my relationship with God matters far more than dutiful albeit heartfelt religious observance.

And yet, and yet......

The regularity of my spiritual routines, and the very sense of God that I encounter in particular moments and places, either alone or with others, are in themselves food for my soul, without which I can start to lose my spiritual bearings.

Yesterday morning I was on my own for the first time since I arrived and found the solitude encouraged me to pay proper attention to "that still small voice" for the first time in several days. As I sat to draft this blog, I flickered between reflection and prayer, writing and worship. It did indeed feel as if "God was in that place".

My time in NZ has been largely based in the coastal city of Tauranga on the western Bay of Plenty on the rim of the Pacific Ocean. Time spent alone by the sea is, for me, often a time for listening to God, for prayer and quiet communion.  Within this peace comes a profound sense of the individual nature of my personal relationship with God.  Each of us is, at heart as "one" before Him. God does not see us a faceless tide of humanity but as beautiful individuals, each created in His image and loved as such more than we can ever know. We are unique in our individuality, even as we are collectively mankind.

This week's poem reflects briefly upon the singular and solitary aspect of our nature, encountered and accentuated at the edge between sea and shore.


I think I must be a solitary man.

Despite my outer cheer and charm, I can

Often find it hard to gather people close

And so locate few memories of those.

But places speak and draw me back

Each sight or sound or smell. Photos black

And white or garish colour just won't do. But best of all

Stand once again upon a cliff or shore and catch the sea birds call.

I think I must be a solitary man.

(c) Martin Wild 2018

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