With the passing of 2012, I am filled with gratitude for the beautiful sights and experiences the Nevada desert held last year for my husband and me. Many thanks to all of our readers who in shared that journey with us–and to those of you have just arrived, welcome. I have been touched by all of your comments and often reflect on them. I am moved to address several exchanges pertaining to the natural world as a venue or vehicle for solitary worship. There is diversity among those comments, with a portion of readers strongly inclined to worship alone in the wilderness to the exclusion of formal venues. Others have remarked that they are drawn to both wild and formally ordained venues–but that not all those with whom they fellowship in the latter approve of their relationship with the former. Over the years, my husband and I have met with some less than gracious responses to our eremitical lifestyle from members of our church, so we understand.
Yet solitude is–commonly or occasionally–a component of worship for many devotees and in this sometimes harried world, can be useful in alleviating stimuli which interfere with our ability to seek and know God. My husband and I are eremitical travelers, a life to which we are called. We are blessed to embrace solitary worship at home and in the wilderness, most often the Nevada desert. But sometimes I find myself driftng toward worldly concerns and, at those times, I find inspiration in scripture and in the words and works of fellow pilgrims.
Another source of encouragement for me is the newsletter published each quarter by Raven’s Bread Ministries. Raven’s Bread Ministries provides a venue for hermits and others drawn to solitude to share insights and experiences with regard to lifestyle and worship. Whether or not you eremitically inclined, I suggest a visit to the Raven’s Bread for a lovely respite.
At its best, solitude brings with it desired aloneness but not loneliness. The aloneness begets a certain emptiness which leads to silence. Silence stills a listening heart in order to be penetrated by the Word of God. Simplicity empties oneself of distractions and separates one from worldly cares. With solitude, silence and simplicity, peace and unexpected joy follows when it is lived intentionally in the presence of God. — Raven’s Bread: Food for Those in Solitude; November 2012 “Thoughts in Solitude”
One of the greatest challenges my husband and I faced in 2012 was the near-disintegration of our church, a church we have attended faithfully (when not traveling) for nearly 10 years. An act of nepotism on the part of one of our trusted church leaders produced chaos in our congregation and among the other leaders. That leader has been recognized and respected–not only in our church but throughout the world–for his life of ministry. He has created models for serving many of the broken among us: addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill, the homeless. Because of his profound service, when he announced that he was installing his son as our new pastor and stepping down to a lessor role, the congregation and leaders were accepting of the change–until it became apparent to everyone but him that his son was not a fit for the position; thus the unraveling began.
My husband and I were traveling often during that period, deep into the Nevada desert wilderness. There we found a sanctuary which was wholly steeped in the presence of God. In the vistas we witnessed the vastness of His kingdom. In the elements we felt the power of His will. Often we drove for days in complete solitude. We camped in Unionville and on the edge of Black Rock Desert. We were blessed to see mustangs, moonrises, shooting stars, and sunsets like gardens drawn across the sky
When we returned to our church we were filled with peace. And able to accept that our beloved pastor, a man who had served God for his entire life, had simply succumbed to a lapse in judgement, wanting the best for his son. But not everyone agreed or was willing to forgive. Our church shrunk to a quarter of its former size. Of the members besides us who remained, many were bereft and accusatory.
Ironically, my husband and I discovered that the intimate relationships we had forged with God through our Nevada desert travels seemed to help us resist the disorienting effects of the upheavals. For that, we were grateful and hope any of you who are experiencing conflicts as a result of your worship choices, will take heart.
As we eagerly look to the new year, we are filled with anticipation for the beauty and blessings it will bring. We look forward to sharing them with you and to learning the good news of yours.
Love and Blessings for 2013,