“But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places and pray.” – Luke 5:16
Rage-fatigue and compassion-fatigue plague people committed to justice based in the life, ministry, and calling of Jesus. There is always some machine against which to rage, some people who need our compassionate solidarity, and something on the to-do list that needs to get done. It’s tiring.
That means sometimes I must pull away, modeling my life after Jesus who often withdrew to deserted places to pray. Isolating or seeking solitude are powerful ways to recharge for the challenges ahead. The work we do to seek a world of shalom requires community, our best thinking, and our best behaviors bathed in communal prayer, worship, and relationship-building. We need each other.
We also need solitude, what Alice Walker calls being separatist at times, “for reasons of health.” For our spiritual, emotional, and physical health, we must at times pull away. We need to know who we are offering up to the community and how we will be with one another. We learn that in the presence of God, in a solitary divine encounter. This work takes stamina and commitment, so resting and praying and pulling away allows each of us to regroup internally. I believe these solitary moments need to be often and planned, and not a result of our sheer exhaustion. The Spirit calls much sooner. It also is an act of spiritual revolutionary resistance.
God, help us to plan to rest and to separate so that we may be in communion with you. Help us remember that we join our hands to work that reflects what you want in the world.