I spent three days in my little office this week. Well, four perhaps – if I count the hours in there after Saturday’s graduation service when the whole place was virtually deserted but for a few graduating students trailing home, cars crammed full of boxes and dreams, the remnants of student life packaged and tied up more neatly than their emotions or future plans.
I’ve been sitting long and quiet in that little room. The girl who has long since got over feeling lonely in those July weeks when the place becomes suddenly like a ghost town. The girl who stays even as peer group after peer group leaves, until the staying is so long that they are not peer groups any more, those leavers, but ones taught or mentored or advised. That girl has been sitting long and quiet in her room with its prayed-over door and its wall, and in the last couple of days the peace over that space has been heavy. A deep, deep peace. Quiet which is more than absence of sound but which settles into the soul’s every crevice.
It didn’t strike me until this morning as I walked up the road to buy some bread for lunch. I’d been focused during the preceding days on writing and editing. Deep work where I lose all awareness of anything else. Mornings where three hours of productivity flash by and lunchtime feels like an irritation, a distraction which I don’t really want to entertain. In that joy of singlemindedness, I’ve not really been noticing anything else.
But as I walked in today’s sunshine, I became aware of how deeply satisfied I was feeling. In a way that I cannot describe, solitude does me good. Silence and withdrawal, absence from people, these things ground me in a way that nothing else can. When I can be sure that I will be uninterrupted, that my time is my own, something in me rests, the beauty of a day stretching out before me.
It’s contemplation of a kind, I think. An attention to a single thing which quietens the heart from all else which troubles it. And in that wholeheartedness, that absence from people and from dissipation of mind and soul towards all that screams for their attention, I find that he is there. That he was already there. That his Spirit weaves his presence into the silence and the solitude so that even the physical space itself seems to resonate with divine possibility. And he woos my heart. Slowly – so very slowly – the silence and solitude, the absence from people, flowers into presence to Jesus.
My heart rests. And I am satisfied.