This past year was a challenge of epic social proportions. The mandates to stay home, the office dispersions, the canceled events. All of the changes in behavior that some people found unbearable. For me staying at home was a choice I made nearly 28 years ago. However, not getting out and about on the weekends or spending time with extended family was a new part of life during this quarantine season.
An eremite is someone who chooses the hermit life in response to seeking a more peaceful and focused spiritual life. Many of these people choose the social distancing as a way to find complete harmony within their soul, spirit, body, and mind. I do not believe in this hands off approach to the Christian’s life. There are too many scripture passages about loving others and Christ’s work through us for the perpetuation of the gospel. Being a recluse during a worldwide pandemic was dictated by health reasons. I am not claiming to be an eremite in the full sense of the word.
Being an eremite is sometimes in response to the character flaws that drive one to sin when living with others. The belief that Christ empower’s us to become better people should drive us towards others not away from them. How can we really show God that we love Him unless we love one another?
However, this barren landscape, involves very few people for me this past year. While I tried to reach out to some in hopes of rekindling friendship, being snubbed a few times in a row, convinced me move on to the next person on the list.
Writing for me is in direct defiance of solitude. The act of putting words into sentences and thought process into journal entries concludes that there will one day be a reader. Being alone while writing is reaching out to another and defies the very act of separation from others. Writing is a forward motion. The pen is hope for the future.
Wasted wanderings would be putting these paper scraps with their ink blots in the trash. While the paper itself is tossed away, the thoughts continue to collect. Like the person in my corner of the world that did not want to “waste his cancer,” I do not want to waste these jottings.
In search of that which lies in plain sight, I find myself studying the great desert wanderings of the faith. There was Moses on the mountain receiving the ten commandments. My favorite because there was an active writer of the event. Of course, Jesus in the wilderness ministered to by angels is another favorite. And don’t forget the Israelites in the Sinai for forty years. The Sinai church or Saint Catherine’s Monastery is the oldest community of “eremite” lifestyle. Separating from the world yet still being in the world, this kind of life often attracts travelers and guests. The ministry to the world thus is done on the terms of the monastic community rather than the expectations of the world. The solitary confinement within the walls of these abbeys is meant to be a “40” hour, day, or week spiritual journey.
Returning to the Cd to listen to the song, brought back many emotions this past week or two. We all really truly experience our own life alone. The life that we live is ours alone to make conclusions and decisions upon. Our burdens are ours alone to carry heavily or to lay down at Jesus feet. We either choose to carry life’s weight alone or to share it. thus in the sharing to lighten our burden and find relief from the load that we bear. This is the basic theory behind grief counseling and support groups.
Finding encouragement alone is nearly impossible. Finding a support group for your particular burden is easier than you think. It’s the actual going. The reality of attendance that makes support groups difficult. One actually must GO somewhere to be ministered to by the group. To receive the support one needs involves being needy. This is the hurdle many do not cross.
This blanket poncho is not as wide as the others that I have made. I actually had to add some border design to make it cozy properly. The yarn was also a nightmare spool bobbin that did not come off the cardboard bobbin without tangling into a hundred knots. This was definitely a colossal alone time accomplishment. And it is one of my favorite warm buddies when there is nobody to give me a hug.
Affirming feelings is not something I remember through my childhood. And I don’t think I was very good at it as a parent either. Watching my grandchildren have their feelings named and affirmed at such young ages makes me think of the cliche psychological counseling statement, “How does that make you feel?” I found that most of the time I have to tell myself, “Feelings lie.” A fact sheet is helpful in those instances.
Out of the darkness and into the night is more of my life wilderness experience that I might care to share. Especially when I talk about my eyesight problems. But that makes me a needy person and others don’t want to be around “needy” people.
When the night light goes out in the bedroom it actually gives me a momentary panic. Then I remember that there are rugs, and walls to search for. My feet and my hands do the “seeing” and I can find my way around okay. The light switch is on the other side of the room for me, and I do not want to wake my sleeping spouse. Though my thrashing limbs usually makes the door hit the furniture and the noise wakes him up anyways.
Yesterday felt a bit like the alarm from a tsunami or hurricane happenings. My emotional state felt like perhaps there was a “coming deluge.” This flood of thought process and the avalanche of words left me shaking. Literally, I was having the day after soy sauce asthma response. The headache, the lack of oxygen, and the allergic reaction made me just want to stay in bed. Thank goodness thereis a dog to keep me going. The pets still needed attention, so I forged ahead. One step in front of the other.
Today, I am doing better mentally. Taking the time to sort out all of the jottings. Some of the ink blotches are indecipherable. Some I just scrapped because they don’t fit with this entry.
I am pretty much done with the eremite living. No, I don’t really live alone. I have had both vaccines and am ready to go back to church social life. Being a self-possessed Christian recluse in persuit of religious piety is not for me. Spending time with my little grand babies will continue to be a “well” opportunity. That’s hard but less disparaging than rare. I will continue to journal during my alone quiet times. At one point I wrote a whole study on forty day silences. Forty days, or forty wees, I don’t think that this quarantine year has transformed me into something that was not. This is not the time for an eremite’s journal.
“Walking through the wilderness When all around is emptiness, I forget the One who fills my cup. Seeing all this barrenness Where once was abundant fruitfulness I turn away and do not look back up. AND God says, ‘You must go through the dark to see the light. You must remember day follows the night. You must run the race to win the prize. For when you’ve passed the test of this life, you will receive the gift, The Crown of Life.’
“Searching for the peacefulness Found in His great faithfulness I forget the One right by my side. Striving to cope with thankfulness When the only hope is His promise I turn back to Him Who Will Provide. AND God says, “You must go through the dark to see thelight. You must remember day follows the night. You must run the race to win the prize. For when you have passed the test of this life, You will receive the gift, The Crown of Life.'”
–from the ninth song on the Album “Are You Ready” Wilderness Journey by Yvonne Annette age 29.