There are times in our inner lives when we must dwell in a lonely place. A lonely place is unfrequented and remote. You dwell there without companions and without comforts. Inner Lent takes place in a lonely place. The reward of spending time in your lonely place is a clear inner strength of purpose and direction.
It’s the middle of the Season of Lent and the time of the Inner Year when we can reflect on our personal need for or connection with the 40 days in the wilderness or desert. Immediately following the Baptism in the River Jordan, Christ is taken by the “Spirit” to this lonely place to fast for 40 days. Following the 40 days, the Devil comes and tempts Him three times.
The Baptism is the moment when the Christ enters Jesus of Nazareth. The Cosmic Christ incarnates within a human being. Following the Baptism, the incarnated Cosmic Christ must spend time in isolation contemplating the experience of human existence and the challenges of earthly limitations of space, weight, time, boundaries, hungers and desires.
The forty days of Lent is a time for you to contemplate the relationship of your divine purpose to the limitations of your personal existence. Inner Lent is not a simple gesture of denial, it is a profound and enriching time of self-exploration and self-awareness that occurs in a lonely place.
Lonely is the right word. When we reach a new inner level of development, meaning or purpose, we are different and “strange” even to ourselves. Our inner place of solitude is where we can adjust, adapt and engage with our new self.
What is your lonely place? The Gospels refer to either desert or wilderness. In the Inner Lent program, I have asked the participants to imagine their own experience of both inner landscapes.
The wilderness is untamed vegetation. There is a feeling of too much. Some find this environment overwhelming and others love the intensity and complexity of wild life. In the wilderness there is no distant horizon. Everything is close and demanding.
The desert is a place of vast emptiness. The horizon is faraway and endless. There is no shelter from the sun. The day is hot and long, the night cold and long. There is no distraction. Is this a safe environment for your soul?
How do you feel about these two environments? Neither the desert or the wilderness offers a path. Can you find your own inner direction? Do you have your own inner resources? How do you awaken to and strengthen your spiritual destiny in your inner isolation and your inner harsh environment?
Do you create a clearing in your wilderness? How do you do this?
Do you find an oasis in your desert? What does it provide for you?
When you reach a new stage of inner development, how can you give yourself time to meditate on how it changes your life? Each of us finds our Baptism when the Spirit comes into our lives and we are no longer our ordinary selves. It requires us to fast from our daily realities and overcome our temptations for external comfort, safety and personal power.
Inner Lent is the yearly season of attention to our renewed purpose. Whether you find yourself in a wilderness or a desert, hold fast to your Inner Divinity.
Please share your experience of dwelling in your lonely place? You will be inspiring others with your openness.